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Geo. H. Kfimcar, Gtenbcruie. 









RE near approach of the centenary anniversary of the death 
of Burns suggested to the author of the following pages the 
desirability of having some account, however meagre and 
inadequate, of the past and present history of the parish from 
which sprung the family rendered now world-famous by the 
genius of the great Bard. 

The author, alike from observation, traditionary report, and 
his own reading, was for a considerable time impressed with the 
conviction that there was enough of material for a history 
of the Parish of Grlenbervie, either already recorded, or 
to be got from trustworthy sources, sufficient to make 
a small volume, having some interest for natives and residents, 
it not for a larger public. 

Besides the very considerable reading and research involved in 
its preparation, there was necessarily a considerable discrimina- 
tion to be exercised, not only as to the relative value of whatever 
came to hand, but also a careful sifting, as to whether it was fact 
or fiction. The author, therefore, while endeavouring honestly to 
" prove all things and hold fast to that which is good," trusts that 
the public will look with an indulgent eye on the many short- 
comings and inaccuracies which no doubt will be apparent to 
many of those who honour him by reading the little work. 

The history of the neighbouring parishes of Fordoun and 
Laurencekirk has been ably dealt with already, but the author, 
whilst possessing the good sense and humility to recognise their 
complete superiority in respect of matter and merit with 
the present work, yet ventures to hope that there may be here 
and there scattered through these pages something, however small, 
towards the elucidation or composition of a complete county 

Amongst the many who have rendered valuable assistance to 
the author only a few can be mentioned, although grateful thanks 
are extended to all. 


To Mr James Badenach Nicolson and Mrs Nicolson, Glen- 
bervie ; the Rev. W. Gordon and Mrs Gordon, The Manse ; the 
Rev. R. M. Boyd, E.G. Manse; the Rev. John Brown, 
Manse, Bervie, Clerk to the Presbytery of Fordoun, and 
many others in the parish and neighbourhood the Author 
is indebted for much of his information. A special word 
of thanks is also due to Mr W. Reith, one of the oldest 
residenters in the parish, for many reminiscences of the past. 

In the publication of the work valuable counsel and help have 
been afforded by the editor of the Montrose Standard ; and to Mi- 
William Watson, of the same office, the author is under a deep 
obligation for his kindness and help in many ways. 

The Burns Chapter has been revised, and in great part rewritten 
by Mr Edward Pinnington, whose enthusiasm for and extensive 
knowledge of Burns' matters are a guarantee of the correctness of 
the matter contained therein. It is almost entirely taken from a 
series of copyrighted articles published by him, some time ago, in 
the Glasgow Evening News and the Montrose Standard, under the 
title of " Burns in the North." These papers, it is his intention, 
to republish in book form. The amount of Burns literature 
nowadays is so vast, and of such ensy access that the author did 
not feel called on to do more in this special chapter than exhibit 
the salient points of the historical connection of the Burnesses 
with the parish. The general scope of the work will tend, it is 
hoped, to show rather the environing circumstances and condi- 
tions of the parish under which many of the Burnesses lived. 

In addition to the sources of information already noticed, the 
following works, among others, have been consulted: Jervise's 
" Memorials " ; Scott's Fasti Eccksiae Scotieana ; Dr Roger's 
" Genealogy of Burns " ; Eraser's " History of Laurencekirk " ; 
Mollyson's " History of Fordoun "; "The Annals of Fordoun," 
by Dr Cramond, Cullen ; Robertson's Agricultural Survey ; The 
Black Book of Kincardineshire ; The Old and New Statistical 
Accounts of the Parish ; The Glenbervie Kirk-Session Records, 

&c., &c. 

The author will be obliged to those who point out to him any 
errors in matter of fact, so that they may, if necessary, be 
corrected in future editions. 

1bf8tor\> of (Slenbervie, 

G. H. KINNEAR, Drumlithie. 



Kincardineshire, or as it is commonly called, the 
Mearns, cannot be said to have been the scene of 
many of the outstanding events of Scottish history. 
Hedged in between Aberdeenshire on the north, 
and Forfarshire or Angus in the south, it stood far 
removed in the past from those more central 
districts of the country in -which the great struggles 
for Scottish independence and Scottish religion 
were being bitterly fought out. But although not 
perhaps thus so distinguished as a scene of historic 
action and valour, the achievements of the " Men of 
the Mearns " in the past will bear comparison in 
their respective walks of life with almost any other 
county in Scotland. 

" Possessed," says Jervise in his lecture to the 
Fettercairn Farmers' Club in 1858, "of no more 
important seminaries of learning than ordinary 
schools, the county had the honour of giving birth 
to some men of great literary attainments. John 
De Fordun, author of the celebrated <Stfi 
Chrotiicon, and the most trustworthy of our 
Scottish historians, is supposed to have been born 
at, and to have assumed his name from, 
the ancient town of Fordoun, about the year 
1350. Bishop Wisjiart of St Andrews and his 
more celebrated namesake, who suffered 
martyrdom during the Reformation, are sup- 

/ Pf^. d to have been born at the family mansion 
\J of I itarrow. The ancient house of Falconer gave 
no fewer than three senators to the College of 
Justice, of whom one was for some time the Lord- 
President. Cadets of the Burnetts of Leys and of 
the Douglases of Tilquhilly, were Bishops of the 
see of Salisbury, and the first of them was one of 
the greatest men of the age in which he lived. 
Dr Thomas Keid, the celebrated philosopher, was 
born in the manse of Strachan, and two of his an- 
csstors, who were respectively eminentasphilosophers 
and physicians in the time of Charles I. were 
sons of the minister of Banchory - Teruan. 
Keith, author of the celebrated Catalogue of the 
Scottish Itixhops, was a cadet at the family of Keith, 
v Marischal, and born at Uras. Douglas, compiler of 
the Baronage of Scotland, was Baronet of Glenbervie. 
Bishop Mitchell, of Aberdeen, belonged to Garvock. 
Dr John Arbuthnott, the friend of Pope, was born 
/ at Kinghoruy. Dr Beat tie, the celebrated author 
of The Minstrel, was a native of Laurencekirk." 
< Lord Monboddo, one of the greatest scholars of his 
age, and one of the most upright of men, must be 
added to the list. More names might be adduced 
to swell the Mearns roll of fame, but enough has 
been said to show that there is here a record of 
which the county may well indeed be proud. 

It is not our purpose, however, at the present 
time to speak of the general history of the county, 
but merely to offer the following pages as a small 
contribution towards the history of one of the most 
attractive and interesting of her parishes. There is 
abundant material in the parish life and parish 
records of the past for the local historian to make 
use of, and nothing can indeed be more gratifying 
than the increasing interest which of lute years has 
sprung up regarding the past annals of our parishes 
and shires. 

Many unwritten legends and traditions there are, 
as well as the already written records and accounts, 
which in the present transitional and busy age it is 
advisable to lay hold of and secure in more per- 
manent form than what the vicissitudes and 
chances ot traditionary lore can afford. Even more 
than in the past will these be valuable to the future 
historian. Our rapidly changing customs and 
modes of living, as well as the exigencies of a highly 
complex civilization will soon obliterate from view 
many picturesque incidents and associations which 

now invest the different localities with a romantic 
and enticing charm. 

These few introductory remarks will enable us, 
therefore, to begin a short account of Glenbervie, 
in the preparation of which the author has laid 
himself under contribution to every available 
source of information, both written and 


as the name implies, takes its name from the river 
Bervie which flows through it. The parish was 
formerly known as Overbervie, a name which also 
carries with it its own meaning. 

Many of the names of the parishes in the 
county have been changed. Laurencekirk was 
formerly Conveth: St Cyrus was Ecclesgreig ; 
previous to the twelfth century, as documents in the 
possession of the Arbuthnott family show, the name 
of the parish of Arbuthnott was not written as now, 
but Aberbotheuothe. In the fourteenth century it 
had become Aberbuthnott, and about the end of 
the first half of the fifteenth century Arbuthnott. 
Mary kirk was formerly known as Aberluthnott. S 
or, as expressed in old writings Aberluthuett, whilst 
the royal burgh of Bervie at the mouth of the river 
the same name, is still designated in official docu- 
ments by the appropriate name of Inverbervie.y 

Glenbervie lies nearly in the centre of the county, 
and is bounded on the west by the Water of Bervie 
and the parish of Fordoun ; on the east by Dunnot- 
tar and Fetteresso parishes ; on the south and south- 
east by Arbuthiiott and Kiuneff ; and on the north 
by the parishes of .Strachan and Durris, the march 
between them and Glenbervie beiug on the ridge of 
the heath-clad slopes of the Grampians. Its length 
from north to south is 6i miles and it stretches 5J 
miles from east to west", and contains something 
over thirteen thousand acres. 

Besides the principal stream there two others in 
the parish the Cowie and the Carrou. The Cowie 
rises in the hills on the north side of the parish, 
and continues in an easterly direction, until it enters 
the parish of Fetteresso. The water of Carron flows 
from the hills of the Brae of Gleubervie, and passes 
eastward to the valley dividing Fetteresso from 
Dunnottar "a water," says the last Statistical 
Account, " too diminutive to merit that classic 


rises in' the hills to the north-west of the parish, 
and joins the Bulg burn above the farm of Corse- 
bauld, and after curving round Paldy Hill continues 
its course till it reaches the Knock Hill and Glen- 
barvie House round which it winds. After a 
southerly course of a mile or so it receives the 
Forthie, a small stream which forms the march 

Tiweeh Glenbervie and Arbuthnott. Turning 
eastwards it then leaves the parish at a point south- 
east from its source. It continues its easterly 
direction to near Fordouu Station, thence south- 
east through the the beautifully wooded grounds of 
Arbuthnott, and finally enters the sea at Bervie. 

The banks of the Bervie are in many places very 
picturesque. Where it comes down from the upper 
district of the parish its banks are but little 
wooded, but round Glenbervie House and in the 
parish of Arbuthnott they are rugged and wooded, 
the slopes to the river being covered with a rich 
profusion of wild flowers and fern. It has for long 
enjoyed a high reputation as a trout fishing stream 
amongst the disciples of Isaak Walton. Yellow 
trout are abundant, whilst at certain seasons, in 
the lower reaches of the river especially, sea trout 
and grilse afford good sport to the angler. It is to 
the credit of the various proprietors, through 
whose ground the river runs that no barrier has 
been placed in the way of legitimate sport with the 
rod and line. 

The parish, considered topographically, may be 
divided into 


(1.) That which lies along the side of the Bervie 
Water. The soil here is, on the whole, productive 
and comparatively early. "It is," says the last 
Statistical Account, " diversified by sloping banks 
and swelling grounds, and though but ill-clothed 
with wood, and almost destitute of hedge or hedge- 
row, shelter or screen, is not impleasing to the 
view." Since the above was written, this district in 
common with other parts of the parish has shared 
in the general improvement which has taken place 
within the last half century in agricultural methods 
and practice. 

A part of this district which joins Arbuthnott on 
the southeast is bounded by a sand-bank, commonly 
known as the Kaincs "rising," says the authority 

already quoted, " abruptly from the level on bcth 
sides, us if it had been cast up by human art. 
though from the regular strata it contains, it has 
obviously been the effect of some water-course ; yet 
the similar acclivity on both sides might accliue one 
to suppose that some convulsion had aided in throw- 
ing up the girdling mound." 

2. The middle district separated byasort of ravine 
from the Bervie water district. This district again 
may be divided into an eastern and a western branch . 
The western division is considerably elevated, and 
lens attractive in appearance than the western. 
Seventy years ago it was said to be " bleak in 
appearance, little cultivated, almost neglected." 
The eastern division is more fertile, and although 
high and exposed is now in a state oi good cultiva- 

3. The northern district is naturally of a colder ar.d 
less productive character, lying as it does close to tlie 
Grampian range. It has not such an inviting 
appearance as other parts of the parish, although 
the advance within the last half century in every 
respect has been very marked. Parts that were 
formerly wild and barren moors are being gradually 
brought under cultivation, and may be expected to 
produce relatively as good crops as any other dis- 
trict of the parish. 

The parish has for long enjoyed an enviable 
reputation for 


The natural situation conjoined with bracing 
breezes from the hills renders it at once salubrious 
and pleasant. The atmosphere is diy and pure, and 
though it may not vie with other places in outward 
attractions and interest, it may safely be com- 
mended to the health-seeker as a spot which will in 
a short time have nn invigorating and wholesome 
effect 011 his health. " The climate is very cold 
in winter," says the last Statistical Account, 
not so much from elevation above the level 
of the sea, as from proximity to the hills hi 
the background, which are, toon after autumn, 
capped with snow ; and, excepting short intervals 
of softer temperature, remains so till towards 
spring. However, from the inland situation of the 
parish, the heights between intercepting tlie sea- 
breeze, the heat of summer is considerably grnter 
that on the coast, or even oil the nuts of the thore ; 

hence the crops of these districts, where the soil is 
not naturally wet and cold, come to maturity fully 
as soon as those which no frosts have benumbed in 
their seed-bed, not blasts from the mountain 
checked in their spring." 

According to the last census the population was 
only 887, One hundred and forty years sgo the 
number of inhabitants was ^58 that is a little 
more than to-day. In 1796 it had risen to 1307 ; 
in 1821 it was 1227 ; in 1831 it was 1248 ; and now 
in 1895 it has receded again to 887. 

It will be thus seen that for the last quarter of 
the eighteenth century and well on through the 
first half of the present century, the population was 
practically stationary. During a considerable part 
of that period there was neither inducement 
nor desire for the inhabitants to leave their 
native parish, but the " yearly emigra- 
tion " to other districts, spoken of by the 
Rev. Mr Drummond in the last Statistical Account, 
has been very marked during the last half century. 
Of course this has by no means been confined to 
Glenbervie. The most superficial observer cannot 
fail to have noticed the steady and continuous 
stream of the best of the peasantry into the large 
towns and cities during the last three or four 
decades. Our statesmen, irrespective of party, are 
trying to avert this by making 


more attractive to what in a certain sense is, no 
doubt, the backbone of the nation. It will be, we 
doubt not, to the benefit of the individual as well as 
to the community at large that this influx into the 
towns, and consequent depletion of our rural 
peasantry, should be considerably arrested. How 
this is to be done it is for the Legislature to say. 
Other European nations have given us an object- 
lesson as to the value of a rural peasantry, and we 
must wish well to all our legislators, who, by their 
efforts are able to entice the labourer back again to 
the soil, and settle him there, for as the poet Gold- 
smith has said 

" A bold peasantry, their country's pride, 

When once destroyed, can never be supplied." 
The following analysis of the population one hun- 
dred years ago will be interesting. It shows that 
verging on the " three score and ten " years and 
over it, there were 158 souls or about 1 in every 8 

of the population, a fact bearing testimony to the 
general longevity of our rural population then, and 
the healthfuliiess for which the parish as above 
stated has been long famed. There were of a 
population 1307750 being males, and 557 females 
Under 10 .. 277 

Between 10 and 20 .. 244 
20 30 .. 228 
30 40 .. 193 
40 50 .. 115 
50 60 92 

60 70 100 

70 80 46 

80 90 9 

90 100 3 





The principal estates in the parish are (1) Glen- 
bervie, Mr J. B. Nicolson ; (2) Drnrnlithie, belong- 
ing to the trustees of the late Mr Millar ; (3) Law- 
gavin, Mr Burnett of Monboddo ; (4) Inchbreck, Mr 
J. Stuart of Laithers ; (5) Dellavaird, Eev. James 
Gammell, Drumtochty ; (6) Mergie, Mr Duff of 
Fetteresso ; (7) JMlsidg. 

(1.) Glcnbervie is, of course, the principal estate 
in the parish, and the only one with a residence. 
It extends to 8481 acres. A survey taken about 
forty years ago, showed the arable area at that time 
to have been 2985 acres, the natural pasture, 3850 ; 
and the woods 116 acres. Since then, however, a 
large extent has been added to the arable area, 
while almost 300 acres have been planted. Within 
the last quarter of a century more than 10,000 
has been expended by the proprietor on general 
agricultural improvements on the estate ; and in 
addition to this the tenants have also improved the 
estate by draining, reclamation of moor or waste 
laud, and other works. Advantage was taken at 
an early period of the Drainage Loan Act, 
they having previous to 1855 put in about 90 
miles of subsoil drains on the Glenbervic 
estate. Recent improvements have been carried 
out under private arrangements between the 
proprietor and individual tenants. Advantage is 
also taken on the expiry of a lease to carry out 
improvements of the houses and other desirable 
works. The five-course rotation has long been the 
rule on the estate, "but," says one in some recent 
remarks on the management of the estate, "Mr 
Nicolson, who is 


has been encouraging his tenantry to grow a greater 
extent of grass, and devote still more attention to 
the rearing and feeding of stock. On suitable land 
and under good maiiiigment, he allows two su ? 
roi-ive grain crops to be grown when the tenant 
(It MIX'S in have that advantage." The hill portion 
of(j!li'iil>tTvic, extending to about 2400 acres is fenced 
in and used as a sheep farm. The soil on the Gleu- 
benie estate varies from good strong fertile clayey- 


loam to thiii loam lyiug on a hard pan. The sub- 
soil on the better parts is gravel and clay. 

(2.) Dr ami it hie estate was formerly known as 
Kiumonihs, from the fact that there are several 
farms of that name on the estate. It was pur- 
chased about the beginning of the present century 
from Viscount Arbuthnott by Mr Gordon of Avochie' 
but was purchased by Mr John Miller, 
whose trustees now administer it. This estate, like 
Glenbervie, has been considerably improved during 
the last half century by draining and reclaiming 
waste or moor. The village of Drnmlithie is built 
on this property. It extends to over 1600 acres, and 
extends southward from the Lawgaven and Brae 
district of the parish to its most southerly boundary . 
This is intersscted now both by the great north road 
and the main line of the Caledonian Railway. The 
land adjacent to the village of Drumlithie is divided 
up into crofts of a few acres, which are eagerly 
/sought for, at considerable rents, by tradesmen and 
others in the district. 

(3.) Lawgaven estate, an ancient patrimony of the 
Burnetts of Monboddo, comprehends from 1000 to 
1100 acres, of which, perhaps three -fourths are in 
cultivation. It lies close to the Grampians, and 
extends for about two miles in length, along the 
base of the hills, being watered by the Carron, which 
has its source near this. 

(4.) //tir<vzcomprehendsaboutl600 acres, mostly 
mountain pasture, and at the beginning of the cen- 
turp scarcely one-fifth of the whole was in cultiva- 
tion. It was on this estate that the ancestors of Burns 
were settled. The names of Bogjorgon, Bogherb, 
J Lady's Moss, Brawliernoor, and others in the vicinity 
are very suggestive vS'io the original character of 
the soil. 

(5.) Dellavaird lies to the north-west of Glenbervie 
House, and extends about two miles to the west. 
There are 1200 acres or thereby of it in the parish 
of Glenbervie, and it is nowina good state of cultiva- 
tion. The estate was purchased from the Earl of 
Kintore by George Harley Drummond, esq., and is 
now possessed by Rev. James Gammell of Drum- 
tochty Castle. 

J (6.) Nergic the most northerly of the estates in 
,the parish is upwards of five miles in length, and 
about a mile broad at an average ; and contains 
about 3600 acres. It belongs to Mr Duff of 


.(7.) Fallsidc, a small estate in east end of the 
parish, consists of about 390 acres. It may be con- 
sidered the terminating point to the Howe of the 
Mearns on the east. 

The most attractive spot in the parish is, without 
doubt, that round 


Here the landscape is diversified by wood, river, 
meadow, and hedge-row. Fine old trees adorn the 
lawn in front of the house, two large gnarled cedar 
larches, curiously branched, which came originally 
from Ireland, being very prominent. The principal 
entrance to the mansion is flanked on each side by 
fine old trees whose green towering branches form a 
natural archway of great beauty. The other appro- 
aches to the house as well as to the whole policies 
are enclosed by beech hedges, well trimmed and 
kept, which gives them a pleasing and attractive 

The house itself nestles cosily under the shadow 
of the Knock Hill, by the side of the Bervie water. 
From the top of the Knock Hill a magnificent view 
of the Howe of the Mearns is got as well as the 
landscape to the north and east. Stretching away 
to the west and south is the magnificent expanse of 
the " Howe," with its dark woods and green fields 
dotted here and there with cosy homesteads. 
Glancing to the right one sees the tall spire of 
Fordoun Kirk, and recollects the legend which ran 
that in a far off age the ecclesiastical authorities 
intended to build the parish church on the top of 
the Knock Hill, but having been counselled by some 
unseen power to desist, they did so, and took it 
further down the valley. 

Tearing along through the valley comes the iron 
horse which tells of a busy restless age, and of a 
world " where to live is to brawl and to battle and 
the strong treads the weak man down." On the 
left, crowning the top of the hill stands the tower 
of Johnstone, keeping a silent watch over the rest- 
less ocean. Further off one can even discern the 
peaks of the Sidlaws and the Grampians skirting 
the valley of Strathmore under which name the 
Howe is continued even as far as the middle of 

On the north and east the view is bounded by the 
outline of the hills, between which and the spectator 
lie many comfortable-looking farmhouses and 
steadings. Looked at in the bright sunshiue of au 


autumn afternoon, when the heather is in full 
bloom, the hills present a picture of great radiance 
and beauty. 

Glenbervie House is a very old one, and is 
supposed to occupy the site of the old " Castle of 
Glenbervie" to which Edward I. marched, and 
where he stayed for a night when on his journey 
north through Scotland to receive the submission 
of the Scottish chiefs. 

Sir William Fraser gives it as his opinion that 
there must have been a ' castle ' as far back as the 
tenth century, and it is believed that part of the 
present house formed part of the original one also. 

The present house is an elegant and capacious 
mansion of three storeys high, and was 
remodelled and enlarged by Mrs Badeiiach- 
Nicolson, the present proprietor's mother, in 1854. 
The house is of an oblong form with a round tower 
at each angle. That on the south is new, and is 
surmounted by an extinguisher-shaped roof, with 
a vane on the top. Above the doorway the family 
arms are sculptured, the motto on the scroll being 
" Nil sistere contra." 

The full itinerary of Edward I. in 1296 is beside 
our present purpose, but on March 28 he crossed the 
Tweed to Coldstream Priory. On June llth of the 
same year, Edinburgh Castle had surrendered ; a 
fortnight later he received several submissions at 
Perth ; on July 7th there were further submissions 
at Farnell and Montrose. John Baliol, one of the 
aspirants for the Scottish crown surrendered to Ed- 
ward in the churchyard of Stracathro to the Bishop of 
Durham and other nobles. Three days later there were 
further submissions at Montrose. Edward there- 
after directed his course into the Mearns, and on July 
llth had reached " Kincardine in Mearns Manor." 

This was, of course, the Castle of Kincardine 
near Fettercairn. It was then the centre of autho- 
rity in the county. On the following day (the 12th 
July) he passed into the " mountague of Glenbervy." 
By this it is not to be inferred that he encamped 
among the hills. It merely marks the 
appearance of the district, as the point 
of departure from the plain to the hills. 
On the same day as he reached Glenbervie, several 
more had given in their submissions at Montrose. 

From Glenbervie he went over the hills to "Durris 
Manor among the mountains." At Aberdeen he 
received several submissions, and holding north by 


Kintore, Luinphaiian, and. Elgin, he himself stopped 
at the last mentioned place. By August 4 he again 
had reached "Kincardine in the Mearns," but it 
does not appear that he had again visited Glenbervie 
on his way south. By August 22nd he had again 
reached Berwick, almost six months after having 
passed northwards. 

During the troublous times of the latter half of 
the sixteenth century Glenbervie in common with 
many other places suffered from the violence of the 


During the regency of the Earl of Mar a struggle 
was carried on in the north as well as in the south. 
The Regent issued a proclamation that the lieges 
should meet at the Kirk of Fordoim to attack or 
resist Sir Adam who was ' ' playing King Herod in 
the north upon the King's friends and gude 
subjects." The phrase "playing King Herod " is 
very expressive, and conveys very forcibly to the 
mind the character of the work he was then 
engaged in. 

The fencible men of Kincardine were, as stated, 
called by proclamation to meet the Lord Lieutenant 
at Fordouu. A few days later than tin's Sir Adam 
made an incursion into the Mearus, surprised the 
Castle of Glenbervie, then belonging to the 
Douglases, laid waste his lands, and carried away 
his goods and chattels. These successes reached 
the ear of the Regent, and accordingly the Lords of 
the Privy Council granted a commission to David, 
Earl of Crawford ; Patrick, Lord Lindsay ; Robert, 
Earl of Buchan, and others, " to converve the lieges 
in warlike manner to resist the treasonable attempts 
of the said traitor." 




the only village in the parish has been in existence 
for a very long period. It dates back at least to 
tho beginning of the Seventeenth Century. The 
Kirkton of Glenbervie, which must have stood, as its 
name implies, near the church, was ereeted into a 
Barony in 1326 by the Douglas family, but it has 
long been lost to memory. 


The name Drumlithic is paid to mean " the ridge 
at the end of the valley," and its situation would 
answer to this description. It stands on a gentle 
slope at the end of the Howe of the Hearus, from 
which again there is aslope to the eastward. Another 
derivation has been ventured upon, for which there 
is also some warrant. In ' lithie ' we have the 
same word as Leith, which means ' water,' and to 
this day there is a road with a considerable slope 
leading northwards from the village to Newmill , 
and the Kinmonths, which is popularly known as 
' the watery bawks,' or backs, hence the supposition 
'the back of the hill where the water comes 
down.' In the days before draining was practised, 
and before there was any road worthy of the name, 
it is just possible that sufficient water may have 
come down the hill to justify the name still given 
to it, but the former appears the more natural and 
probable derivation of the name. 

Formerly the turnpike passed by the village. 
Hence Drumlithie was one of the places of call for 
the stage coach in the days before therailway system 
came into vogue. The present turnpike passes about 
half a mile to the south of the village. A road 
from Stonehaven to the village struck off the present 
one at the Temple, and came along by Fallside to 
the village. Previous to the formation 'tfHtle'pre- 
sent turnpike the land between it and the old one 
was one huge swamp, known as the ' Bogs.' 

The road leading from the village to the present 
turnpike and which was the old coach road is 
generally known as the "Kolland" road, whilst 
the steep short brae on the other side of the rail- 
way leading to the old toll at Mondynes goes by the 
name of pays dc France, but n6~salisfactory explana- 
tion of these names can be got. Evidently they are 
corruptions of something else. There is no tradition 
or incident in the recollection of even the oldest in- 
habitant of the district to satisfactorily account for 
the origin of these names. With the diversion of 
the main road from the village, and the construc- 
tion of the railway it was inevitable that its 
importance as a halting place and centre of trade 
for the surrounding rural district should be con- 
siderably diminished. 

The arrival of the stage coach in the olden days 
was an event of some local importance. It was 
almost the only means of communication with the 
outside world. And how very different is it to-day ? 


Instead of one stage coach arrival we have trains 
flying past us almost every hour of the day. The 
outer world is easily reached. That which would 
have excited the admiration and wonder of our 
grandfathers is now looked upon as a circumstance 
of ordinary moment. The important news from all 
parts of the world, brought now morning and 
evening to even the remotest village in the 
land, excites less comment than the burn- 
ing of a haystack or the overturning of the 
stage coach would have done sixty years ago. And 
yet we must rejoice that while the nil admirari has 
been largely developed in our rural population, 
they have also undoubtedly shared in the general 
advance in the standard of living and comfort which 
has marked the last three-quarters of a century 
amongst us. 

If the introduction of steam as a means of com- 
munication had the effect of widening the views 
and sympathies of our rural population, it at the 
same time inflicted a temporary hardship on many 
of our local industries. Manual labour must give 
way to the power of machinery driven by steam, 
and such was the case in Drumlithie. 

One of the chief industries in the village used to 


The manufacture of linen and other similar goods 
occupied the attention of the villagers. Nothing 
but the click of the shuttle and the sound of the 
blacksmith's hammer could be heard sixty years 
ago as one went through the village. The sound of 
the sledge hammer is, indeed, yet heard, but the 
sound of the shuttle has vanished. The " sough of 
the shuttle" has not been heard in Drumlithie for 
almost a score of years. Says Jervise in his Me- 
morials " A single handloom weaver still (1879) 
continues to maintain an unequal struggle 
against the superior power of steam." The 
weaving shops were not only in the village, 
but extended considerably to the west end of 
the village, on the site of the present Dencrot't 
Cottage, which is built on what was then a com- 
monty for the village, known as the Ba' green, and 
used as a playground for the children attending the 
parish school. 

From this they extended down to the village, 
several standing on what is now the schoolhouse 


garden. These were low thatched cottages similar 
to the few still standing in the village, 
and in many cases served the double purpose of 
workshop and dwelling-house -- the one end 
forming the loom -shop with its raftered 
roof and dusty walls in which from morning to 
night the weaver plied his work. 

Whilst no special mention is made of this in- 
dustry in the first Statistical Account of the parish 
we find the following remarks on " the manuf act- 
ing population " in the second one, written about 
1838. "These" that is the weavers "have not 
risen in the same scale as the fanners within the 
same period " that is within the previous "forty 
years. " They are dependent, almost to helpless- 
ness, on the great manufacturers: In other days, 
the weaver was the owner of the web he wove ; and 
it was his custom to carry it to market, whence 
he brought back its value, to purchase more 
materials for farther operations gratified with the 
reflection that he had something at stake in the 
interests of the community, and that his condition 
was far above that of the mere hireling." The 
market town was either Stonehaven or Montrose, 
whence they were taken by the carrier's cart. 

That the weaving community did not prosper in 
the same degree as the agricultural class is not to 
be wondered at, when we remember that these forty 
years saw the beginnings of the time when steam 
power was to be the great factor in the mechanical 
arts, and that whilst the farmer was improving 
not only his implements but also his system of farm- 
ing, he at the same time was enjoying the benefit 
of the high prices which marked the first twenty - 
five years and more of the present century. 
Indeed, the condition of both master and servant 
had improved very much during the period above 
referred to. " The farmer," says the second 
Statistical Account, "though far from opulent, 
enjoys a moderate share of the comforts of life, and 
the servant has a fair allowance for the wages of 
his toil." 

To describe Drumlithie, indeed, would be no 
easy task. The only regular feature about it is its 
irregularity. The original founders of the village 
seem to have set out no plan on which they might 
proceed to build, or if they did it was more "honoured 
in the breach than the observance." A bird's eye 
view of it from a balloon would almost convince one 


that that the houses had been shaken from the 
clouds ! Tt was in reference to this that the late 
Mr Drummond, parish minister, when asked his 
opinion regarding the feasibility of a scheme for 
draining the Bogs, devised by some of the inhabi- 
tants said " I thought Drmnlithie was a place 


from the beginning." This remark conveyed by 
implication a hint that he did not want to be 
bothered with what did not very much concern him, 
and at the same time it was a piece of fine sarcastic 
irony which the minister would, no doubt, enjoy, 
however agreeable or otherwise it would be to the 
feelings of the good people of the village. 

The most characteristic feature of the architec- 
ture of the village is, however, 


This unique structure was built in 1777. It con- 
sists of a circular tower surmounted by a belfry, on 
top of which is a vane or weather-cock. It stands 
in the principal street of the village and was 
originally intended to hold the bell which was 
rung for the regulation of the meal hours of the 

The present belfry was the gift of a gentleman 
who was for a long time postmaster in the village, 
and who took a hearty interest in its welfare, viz., 
Robert Dyce Smith. ' He was for long also " Pro- 
vost," and in many ways exerted himself for the 
improvement oftheplac3. 

The care of the steeple now rests in the Village 
Council. This is a Committee of the citizens, who 
by voluntary subscriptions amongst the inhabitants, 
are enabled to put up and maintain lamps in the 
village, to keep the streets in repair, and generally 
to attend to any other matters tending to the wel- 
fare of the place, so far as their limited means will 
allow. The " Council " is chosen by popular vote 
at a meeting of subscribers duly called. At these 
meetings the municipal spirit often strongly asserts 
itself, and the inevitable " heckling " of the candid- 
ates nominated for the honourable position of 
town councillor, is carried on with great spirit and 
good humour. In fact, the " heckling " 
meeting is looked upon as one of the 
"institutions" of the place. From amongst 
themselves the Councillors nine in number 
elect a Provost, a first, second, and third Bailie, 


a Town Clerk, Town Treasurer, and a Dean of 
Guild ! It will thus be seen that though their 
means be small, their aims are good, and their 
aspirations high. A revised set of regulations for 
the conduct of these local municipal elections was 
drafted by the Rev. Mr Boyd, at the instance of the 

Despite the sarcastic taunt sometimes levelled at 
them, that the Steeple has "to be taken in on a 
rainy day," the citizens regard it with as much 
pride as ever the Egyptians did Cleopatra's Needle, 
and ask with a pardonable pride where such a com- 
bination as a " Council " and a " Steeple " can be 
found in any place similar to the good old " town " 
of Dnunlithie ! 

Close to the village are the 

These were a number of low lying and swampy 
fields, stretching between the old and the present 
turnpike roads. At one time they extended even as 
far as the outskirts of the farm of Thriepland, on 
the south side of the present turnpike. They are 
now partially reclaimed and intersected by the 
main line of the Caledonian Railway. They 
formed at one time a sort of commonty in 
which the crofters' cows were allowed to graze on 
payment of a certain annual rent. For a cow 
seven shillings and sixpence were paid for the 
Mason, and a similar sum for a stirk. These had 
to be "herded," generally by a boy from the 
village, his wages being paid proportionally by 
those employing him. Going to the upper end of 
the village he blew a horn to give the crofters 
intimation of his departure with the cows. The 
cows at the furthest end of the village were simply 
let loose, and made their own way down to the 
"fit o' the toon" where joined by the 
others, they were handed over to the herd boy. 
Sometimes a hue and cry got up when any of the 
animals got " laired " in the Bogs, and this 
necessitated neighbourly assistance, which was by 
the weavers and others very readily given. 

The names of the different parts of the Bogs are 
very suggestive. They were the Little Meadow, 
the Muckle Meadow, Big Swale, John Smith's 
Loch, Fit o' the Parks, Heathery Howe' Links, 
Foggie Moss, and the Booth Moss, out of which 
peats were cut. The names indicate very clearly 
the character of the different divisions into which 


they were divided. The herd boy's horn is now in 
the possession of Mr Thomas Wyllie, tailor, Drum- 
litliie^ who was amongst the last of the herd boys. 



At the time of the visit of King Edvvaid I the 
castle of Glcnbervie belonged to a branch of the old 


Many barons of that name did homage to Edward, 
and among these was ' ' Johannes de Maleuill miles ' ' 
who probably was "John De Malevill, Chevalier, 
the laird of Glenbervie. His submission took place 
at Lnmphanan in Aberdeenshire on the 21st of July, 
1296; and at the same time and place " John of 
Stowc," parson of the Kirk of Glenbervie, also 

In the burial fault of the Glenbervie family, 
standing in Glenbervie Kirkyard, and which 
formed the chancel end of the old kirk there are 
two interesting monuments. The inscription on 
one of these records the brave deeds and 
matrimonial alliances of the lairds of Glenbervie 
from 730 A.D., and alsp describes their connection 
with the Doiiglas family. The monument, which 
seems to have been renewed, bears the date 1680. 
It contains, in addition to a. long list of the lairds 
and ladies of Glcnbervie, some ciirious mortuary 
emblems, and also the armorial bearings of the 
family of Hassa, Olifart, Melville, Affleck and 
Douglas. The inscription is remarkable in that it 
perpetuates the name of " Bell-the-Cat," given to 
the fifth Earl of Angus. He gives us at least a 
traditional view of the family history, which in its 
later details is not erroneous. 

The inscription is in contracted Latin, and is as 
follows : 

"Hicjacent, in spc bonae resurrectionis, Glen- 
bervii Comarchi, infra dcsignati, ct secundum cog- 
nomina singulis classibus clivisi, ab anno 730" 
' 'Hugo Hassa, Gerrnanus, illinc hue perigriuatus ubi, 
praclaris meritis postquam insignis apparuisset, 
Germunda Dcrvies, Gleubervii herctrice nupta, sub 
hoc priinum tumulo cum conjuge, liberisque suis 
obdormit. lloruni posteri continuerunt in annum 


1004." "Helena, ultima JIassnrum sobolcs." 
" Duncamis Oliphnntcs, Mernii Decurio, interfecto 
Donaklo ct Waltero Hassaeis, fratribus praedictae 
Helenae, Clara pugna a campo in Barry expul- 
sando Danos, Helenae heretrici nuptus, Glenbervio 
succedit, giguitque heredem Waltemm, filiamque 
Margaretam, cum agris, nunc Arbuthnott desig- 
natis. Ortus inde est Robertus, a presente vice 
comes, secundus de eodem nomine princeps" 
Walterus duxit uxorem Matildam Sinclli angusiae 
thaui filiam. Osbertus, horum films, Aegidiam 
Hay, Arrollii filiam, militiae studens, cum God- 
fredo Bulionio in Syriam perrexit, relicta filia 
unigcnita heretrice, in proelio occisus. Nupta 
1057, Jacobo Malvill. Hungaria nobili orto, 
cui pepcrit filium Hugonem, matrimonio Gerardi 
Macpendarii, Mernii thani, filiae datum. Horum 
posteri continuerunt in annum 1440." "militi, 
filio secundo Archibald! Comitis Angusiae, vulgo 
Bell-tfif-Cat, Guilelmo Duglasio, a Bredwood, 
Jacobum patrem heretricis a Glenbervy, nuptae, 
Elizabeta Malvil, nupta Johauni Afflect, de codem 

The translation of the above is " Here lie in the 
hope of a happy resurrection, the lairds of Glen- 
bervie mentioned below, and classified according to 
their surnames from the year 730 . Hugh Hassa, a native 
of Germany, who settled in this country, where his 
eminent merits raised him to distinction, married 
Germunda Dervies, heiress of Glenbervie, and was 
the first that slept in this tomb, where his wife and 
children repose by his side. Their posterity con- 
tinued until 1001. "Helena was the last of the 
Hassa family." " Duncan Oliphant, sheriff of the 
Mearns (Donald and Walter Hassa, the brothers of 
the foresaid Helen, having been killed in a famous 
battle fought in a plain at Barry, against a host of 
Danish invaders) having married Helen, the heiress 
of Glenbervie, succeeded to the property, and begat 
Walter, his heir, and a daughter named 
Margaret, on whom he bestowed the lands now 
called Arbuthnott. From her was descended 
Robert, the second Viscount from the present, and 
the first of that name. Walter married Matilda 
Scnclli, daughter of the Thane of Angus. Their 
son Osbert married Aegidia Hay, daughter of 
Errol, and being an ardent soldier, went with 
Godfrey of Bologna to Syria, where he was killed in 
battle, leaving as his heiress an only daughter who 


in 1057 married James Mclril, a Hungarian noble, 
to whom she bore Hugo, who married Geruarda, 
daughter of Macpender, Tliane of the Mearns. 
Their posterity continued to the year 1440." 
" Elizabeth Melvil, having married John Affleck of 
that ilk, bore to him James, father of the heiress of 
Glenbervie, who married Sir William Douglas of 
Bredwood, second son of Archibald, Earl of Angus, 
commonly called Eell-the-Cat." 

In the twelfth century the lands of Glenbervie 
were in possession of a baron of the name of Melville. 
This was a very common name in the district at 
that period. " The Melvilles," says.Jevise, " came 
to Scotland with King David I., under whom they 
had a settlement in the Lothians, and their 
progenitor is said to have borne the name of Male, 
and so called his lands Maleville. Chambers holds 
that they were of Anglo-Norman lineage, while 
Crawford asserts, perhaps following the tablet in 
the burial vault of Glenbervie, that they were from 
Hungary, where, he adds, some families bear the 
same name and arms." 

There were 


of them, one in Angus and the other in the Mearns. 
Of the Angus branch were the famous Andrew and 
James Melville, whose names are so well known as 

Philip, the founder of the Kincardineshire 
branch was the son of Galfricl of Melville, who 
was eminent during the reigns of King David I. 
. and the two succeeding monarchs. About the year 
1200 Philip married Eva, daughter of Walter Sib- 
bald, and received with her lands of Monethyn 
'-r or Mondyncs in Fordoun Parish. 

His son, also called Philip, was Sheriff of Aber- 
deen about 1222, and later Sheriff of the Mearns. 
From him was descended the knight, " John 
de Maleuil " already mentioned as having done 
homage to Edward I. at Lumphanan in 1296. 

Another of the Melvilles was 

who is said to have been Sheriff of Kincardineshire 
in the time of James I. , about 1420. It was he who, 
tradition states, was boiled in " Brownie's Kettle " 
in a hollow on the east side of the parish of 

The story of the barbarity is well known, yet, 


seeing that it was one of the most dramatic incid- 
ents in the history of the parish, wo otter no apology 
for here again reproducing the narrative of it. Of 
late considerable doubts has been thrown on the 
authenticity of the story, and a wordy warfare 
ensued, in which on both sides there was a con- 
siderable amount of assertion and private 
opinion with very little argument based on actual 
fact. We do not intend to decide between the 
rival disputants, but shall content ourselves with a 
recital of the narrative from the pen of the Kev. Mr 
Charles, formerly schoolmaster of Glenbervie, and 
afterwards minister of Garvock, the parish where 
the revolting deed is said to have been carried out. 
Thereafter we shall state as judicially as we can the 
pros and cons of the affair, and leave to an intelligent 
public as jury to decide for themselves. 

" The tradition is this, and affords a sad speci- 
men of the barbarity of the times of James I., 
about 1420. Melville, the Laird of Glenbervie, and 
Sheriff of the Mearns, had, by a strict exercise of 
his authority, rendered himself obnoxious to 
the surrounding barons who, having teased 
the King by repeated complaints, against 
him, at last in a fit of impatience, the 
King said to Barclay, laird of Mathers, who had 
come with another complaint, " Sorrow gin that 
Sheriff were sodden and supped in brie."" As 
your Majesty pleases" said Barclay and immediately 
withdrew went and assembled his neighbours, the 
Lairds of Lauriswr, Arbuthnott, Pittarrow, and 
Halkerton appointed a great hunting match in the. 
Forest of Garvock, to which they kiukly iuvitcd the 
devoted Melville. And having privately got ready 
a large kettle of boiling water in a retired 
place, they decoyed unsuspecting Melville to the 
fatal spot, knocked him down, stripped him and 
threw him into the boiling kettle. And after ho 
was boiled or sodden for some time, they took each 
a spoonful of the soup. To screen himself from 
royal justice, Barclay built that fortress in the parish 
of St Cyrus called the Kaim of Mathers, on a 
perpendicular and peninsular rock sixty feet above 
the sea, where, in those days, he lived quite 
secure. The laird of Arbuthnott claimed and 
obtained the benefit of the law of the- clan Mncduff, 
which, in case of homocide, allowed a pardon to 
any one within the ninth degree of kindred to 
Macdutf, Thane of File, who should ilee to his 


cross, which then stood near Lindores, on the 
march between Fife and Strathearn, and pay a fine. 
The pardon is still extant iif Arbuthnott House. 
On the fate of the other conspirators the voice of 
tradition has died away. The field where this 
horrid deed happened still retains the name of 
Brownie's Leys ; because from the murderoiis deed 
then perpetrated it was long supposed to be 
haunted by spirits called Brownies." 

To the above narrative Dr Cramond, schoolmaster 
of Cullen, takes exception in certain particulars. His 
opinions onthesubjectmaybe taken as representative 
of those who disbelieve the tradition as commonly 
stated. In his "Annals of Fordoun" recently 
published his verdict on some of the particulars is 
as follows : 

(1) Was Melville Sheriff? "improbable, as if 
there were any likelihood whatever that the lairds 
of Glenbervie ever were Sheriffs of Kincardine." 

(2) Melville's alleged " harshness to the poor " 
" Was it likely," says Cramond, " that that 
would be accounted much of a sin in those days, 
and would the neighbouring lairds take vengeancs 
upon him for that offence ? ' ' 

(3) Repeated complaints to the king. Says 
Cramond, " Was it then a king or a Regent?" 

(4) King's reply, boiling in cauldron, &c. 

(5) Letter of remission of sentence. Cramond 
doubts whether it was ever in existence. 

In place of the narrative just given, Cramond 
quotes the following as " probable in all respects." 

" Melville, puffed up with riches and a sense of 
power, chiefly because he had a great number of 
Highlanders at his command, bore himself haughtily 
towards his neighbours, of whom Hugh Arbuthnott, 
being nearest, suffered most. Not being able to 
deal with him alone Arbuthnott entered into a 
league with others of the Kincardineshire notabi- 
lities with the result of increasing rather than of 
allaying irritation. At last a meeting is arranged 
a hunting party, Melville being of the number. 
They fell out on the hill of Garvock and Melville 
was killed." 
The believers in the legend on their part affirm 

(1) That such a deed as this was very probable as 
being in accord with the lawless and barbarous 
spirit of the time when it happened. 


(2) Similar deeds have limi curried out. Sir 
Walter Scott who believed in the tradition, in notic- 
ing the death of Lord Soulis, says : " The tradition 
regarding the* death of Lord Soulis, however 
singular, is not without a parallel in the real 
history of Scotland," and then he goes on to detail 
the story as commonly believed. 

(3) The testimony of Professor Stuart that the 
sculptured stones at the manse of GJjiiuis contain a / 
representation of a siruiliar incident. 

(4) The mention in the ballad of the Kaim of 
Mathers of the incident in which the laird of 
Mathers preferred to stay at home, and 

' ' Buyld a lordlie Kami 

All on the stonie rock, 

Which mote defie the sovereign's arms, 

Or eke the tempest's shock." 

(5) The deed of pardon said to be in Arbutlmott 
House sets forth that Hugh of Arbutlmott, George 
Barclay, Alexander Falconer, William Graem, Gil- 
bert Middletou, Patrick Barclay, and Alexander 
Graem are " received into the clan for the deid of 
whilom John Melville of Gleubervie." 

It is asserted by Alexander Arbutlmott, who was 
elected principal of King's College, Aberdeen, in 
1569, that Hugh of Arbuthnott built a chapel at 
Drumlithie, which he richly endowed, and appointed 
a priest to pray daily for John Melville's soul. 

The Kincardineshire branch of the male line of the 
Melvilles survived no later than lilcS, when Alex- 
ander Melville's only daughter and heiress, 


was married to Sir Alexander Auchinleck of Bal- 
manno, a cadet of the family of Auchinleck in 
Ayrshire. Lady Auchiuleck's only child was 
married in 141)2 to Sir William Douglas of 
liraidwood, second eon of Archibald, Earl of 
Angus, well known as Bell the Cat, and 
by her he had the barony of Glenbervie. 
Ihese were the grandfather and grandmother of Sir 
William Douglas, afterwards ninth Earl of Angus, 
from whom were descended the Dukes of Hamilton 
and Douglas, and many others amongst, the nobility. 
Sir William Douglas fell at Flodden Field, and his 
grandson fought at the Battle of Corrichie on Queen 
Mary's side, and, in spite of royal opposition, suc- 
ceeded to the Earldom of Angus, as heir male of the 
eighth Earl who died in 1588. 


The other monument in the Douglas aisle is a 
chest- shaped one, and the ends are omamedted with 
carvings of the Douglas and Graham arms. On the 
top of the tomb is the following inscription : "Hie 
jacet vir illustrissimus, Gulielmus Duglasius, An- 
gusiae conies, primus Glenbervii comarchus, qui 
dicto comitatui hereditario jure successit : Obiit 
kalend Julii, anno salutis, 1591 ; aetatis suae 59." 
"Hie jacet illustrissima foemina, Domina Aegidia 
Graham, praefati comitis uxor, quae cum 40 annis 
cum ipso conjunctissime vixisset, ae vidua marito 
et sibi, hoc monumentum posuisset. Obit anno 
aetatis Die, anno domini." 

The translation of the obove is : Here lies the 
most illustrious William Douglas, Earl of Angus, 
previously Lord of Glenbervie, who succeeded to 
the said Earldom by hereditary right. He died 1st 
July, 1591, in the 59th year of his age." "Here 
lies an illustrious lady, Aegidia Graham, wife of 
the foresaide Earl, with whom she lived in the 
closest affertion for 40 years. In her widowhrod 
she erected this monument for her husband, and 

died on the day in the year aged 


The above Countess Aegidia was a daughter 
of Graham of Morphie, but neither the date of her 
death nor her age is recorded on the monument. 

Their eldest son, William, succeeded to the Earl- 
dom. He was afterwards created Marquis of 
Douglas and Angus. He wrote a history of the 

The second son, llobert, carried on the Glenbervie 
line, and his son William was created a baronet of 
Nova Scotia in 1625. 

The male line failed in the 7th Baronet son of Sir 
Robert the author of the ' ' Peerage and Baronage 
of Scotland. 

The property passed from the Douglases in 1675. 
On April 24th of that year, Captain, afterwards Sir 
Robert Douglas, sold the lands and Barony of Glen- 
bervie to 


brother -gerinan to Sir Alexander Burnett of Leys. 
Robert Burnett married Katherine Douglas. Their 
initials appear together on the old Mill of Glen- 
bervie, M rs ] Jurnett married Sir William Nicolson. 
Thirt Sir Hubert Burnett was succeeded by his son 
Thomas, about l(VJl), and when he died he left an 
only child Catherine. She afterwards became the 


wife of Mr George Gordon of Buckle. With con- 
sent of her curator, Robert Burnett, merchant, 
Montrose, she sold Glenbervie on 6th March 1721, 


The Nicolsons of Glenbervie spring from Mr 
George Nicolson of Cluny (afterwards Sir 
George Nicolson), whose son, an eminent lawyer, 
bought the estate of Kemnay in his native county, 
from which on being made a Lord of Session in 
1682, he assumed the title of Lord Kemnay. 

His eldest son, Thomas, was made a Baronet in 
1700, and dying without issue was succeeded in the 
title by William who, as above stated, bought 
Glenbervie in 1721. 

This Sir William died at Edinburgh on June 7th, 
1766, in his ninety-third year. In the April 
previous to his death a daughter was born to him, 
in noticing which the Scots Magazine of that date 
said : 

" Sir William is at present 92 years of age, and 
has a daughter alive of his first marriage, aged 66. 
He married his present lady (Agnes Burnett) when 
he was 82, by whom he has had now six children." 

Sir William was succeeded by his son Sir James 
Nicolsou, who died at Montrose in 1782, when the 
baronetcy became extinct, and the property of 
Glenbervie went to his elder sister, Helen, who died 
without issue. She was succeeded by her niece, 
Mrs Badeuach, wife of the Rev. James Wilson, 
minister of Famell, who was succeeded by her 
daughter Ann. 

The present proprietor is Mr James 


Besides giving personal attention to the management 
of his estates, Mr Nicolson finds time to devote 
his energies to various branches of public work. In 
the long line of Glenbervie lairds of whom we have 
spoken, there have been those who in their day and 
their respective spheres have been highly dis- 
tinguished. Not for ourselves only, therefore, but 
for those who may come after us, it will not, we 
hope, be considered, at the present opportunity, too 
much too say that if high character, energy, and 
tact, and untiring industry in the prosecution of all 
his work count for anything in the estimate of 


one's worth, then it may safely bo said that the 
present proprietor has well upheld the traditions 
handed down to him from the past. 

Perhaps in connection with his county work he is 
best known. He holds the office of Convener of the 
County, and for long has taken a very prominent 
part in the various bodies entrusted with county 
management. He has been since its commence- 
ment Chairman of the County Council. For more 
than forty years he has been intimately identified 
with local parish business, and on the formation of 
the Parish Council he was by the newly-elected 
body awarded a unanimous vote of confidence and 
thanks for his past parochial administration. As a 
lawyer he has rendered important aid to various 
Governments in the drafting of bills affecting Scot- 
land and Scottish interests, amongst which 
we may single out " the Local Government 
Act 1889." He holds the office of Perman- 
ent Counsel to the Scotch Education Department, 
and his work there is thus spoken of by Dr Craik, 
the Secretary to the same Department. : 

' ' Mr Nicolson became Counsel to this Department 
in 1878, when Sir Francis Sandf ord (afterwards Lord 
Sandford) was Secretary. Since then Mr Nicolson 
has had a constant and large part in the work of 
this Department. There are frequent references to 
him in the ordinary routine of the work with re- 
gard to transfers of schools, combinations of School 
Boards, agreements between School Boards, &c. 
Besides this he gives frequent advice with 
regard to the schemes under which Edu- 
cational Endowments are administered. He 
further advises on occasional questions of 
special legal difficulty affecting the administration 
of this Department. He has drafted more than one 
of the Acts (since that of 1872) which have dealt 
solely with education, and any clause in another 
Act which bore upon education would be revised 
by him. I need not say that his thorough 
acquaintance with all branches of local administra- 
tion has been of the greatest use to me, and his 
knowledge of these subjects has always been at the 
service of the Department. I cannot, indeed, 
speak too strongly of the help he has given during 
these sixteen years." 



The Church in Scotland has always exercised 
considerable influence with regard to many affairs 
in the state. Of old she had a determining voice 
in the councils of the nation. Rulers were often- 
times obliged to reckon with her, so strong a hold 
had she got over the nation. The leaders of the 
church shaped her policy. The people trusted in 
them, and regarded them as their "guide, philo- 
sopher and friend." In Glciibervie, as elsewhere, 
the direction of parish affairs was in the past, as in 
other parishes, largely in the hands of the kirk. A 
short account of the men who helped to 
shape its course of action, and who ministered from 
week to week to the parishioners will not therefore 
be uninteresting. A few notes on the other two 
churches the Episcopal and Free will also be 

The parish church of Glenbervie, in the Presby- 
tery of Fordoun, and Synod of Angus and Mearns 
was formerly a prebend of Brechin, and is rated in 
the old taxation at 20 Scots. 

We have already seen that 


pastor of the parish did homage to Edward I. at 
Lumphanau in Aberdeenshire, in 1296. Between 
that date and 1567 there is no authentic notice of 
the ministers who served in Glenbervie. In the 
latter year the parish was supplied by 

In 1570 


was removed from Fetteresso, and put in charge of 
Glenbervie. He had also the care of Dunnottar. His 
stipend from Glenbervie was 8 10s 4^d, along with 
the kirk lands. He was probably the Friar, who for 
" usurping the authority of the kirk, and taking 
the ministry at his own hands " was outlawed at 
Stirling on 10th May, 1559. He was continued at 
Gleubervie till 1580. 

The next two incumbents were members of the 


One Duncan was a son of William, ninth Earl of 
Angus, and the other Robert Douglas was second 
son of Sir Archibald Douglas of Glenbervie. 
Duncan was minister from 1585 to 1589, and Robert 
from 1590 to 1635. 


It was the latter who officiated at the marriage 
of the Earl of Angus and Lady Mary Gordon, 
which took place at the kirk of Bellie in 1632. 
Robert Douglas of Kilinonth, a son of the last 
named minister is said to have been ancestor of 
John Douglas of Fechil in Logie Buchaii, whose 
son Sylvester became Lord Glenbervie and died in 
1823, and who erected a monument in St Nicholas' 
churchyard, Aberdeen, to the memory of his 
brother-in-law, Mr James Mercer, author of a 
volume of lyric poems. 

Before the death of Robert Douglas in 1635 a 
" suffragan " that is an assistant and successor 
had been appointed in the person of 


in 1634. He was the son of John Chalmer of Balna- 
crage, graduated at Aberdeen University in 1630, and 
died in 1635, the year after his appointment to 
Glenbervie, his age being only 25. "Being ane 
young mane, he had no moveable guidis nor gear 
but only his buiks, and the abulzeinents of his 
bodie, estimat at 6 14s 4d Scots, while at the same 
time he was awand to James Auchinleck in 
Drumlethe for ane yeir and ane half yeiris burd for 
eiitertenment and chargis in beddine and burdinge." 
He ordained his corpse to be honourably buried iu 
the Kirk of Lumphannan, to the poor of which parish 
he left 50 rnerks. . 

The next minister was the Rev. 


He was a student in divinity in 1633, and was 
admitted in 1636 to the charge of Glenbervie. He 
graduated at St Andrews in 1634. He died in 
November, 1680, in the 76th year of his age, and 
46th of his ministry. His wife, Margaret Gordon, 
survived him, as also six children, four sons and 
two daughters. His sons were all ministers of the 

Mr Irvine, who was probably a descendant of the 
Monboddo family was succeeded by his son 


who was admitted on 7th February, 1678, that is 
two years before his father's death. He died about 
1710, or 1711 , and is said to have been an Arminian. 

The Rev. 


was appointed in 1712. He was the son of Andrew 
(Alexander) Hamilton of Kiukell. He studied at 


St Leonard's College, St Andrews, and graduated 
14th July, 1694. He was licensed by the Presby- 
tery of Kirkcaldy on llth February, 1703, and 
ordained to the parish of Navar in Forfarshire in 
1708. After staying four years there he was trans- 
lated to Glenbervie on 20th March, 1712. He died 
20th May, 1754, in the 48th year of his ministry. 
His wife, Grizell Haldane, survived him eighteen 
years, having died on 30th August, 1772. 

The next minister was the Rev. 


He was a native of the County and 
schoolmaster at Fetteresso, and succeeded 
to the charge of Glenbervie in 1755. He graduated 
at Aberdeen, on 27th March, 1745, was licenced by 
the Presbytery, 27th June, 1753, and received from 
Sir James Nicolson of Glenbervie the presentation 
to the church and parish in August 1754, being 
ordained on the 19th of March in the following year. 
He died 12th Sept., 1779, in his 54th year and 25th 
of his ministry. He married in March, 1756, 
Margaret Simpson, who died at Montrose, 25th 
December, 1815. 

The Rev. 


succeeded in 1780. He graduated at Aberdeen on 
April 25th, 1759, and thereafter was appointed 
Schoolmaster at Dunnottar. He was licensed 
by the Presbytery on 5th October, 1768, 
and received from the patron, Sir James Nicolson, 
the living in 1779, being ordained 18th May, 1780, 
He died on 13th April, 1815 in the 78th year of his 
age, and 35th of his ministry. He married in 1788 
Christian Thorn who died 20th September, 1846. 
Their son Mr Alexander Thorn was licensed as a 
preacher of the Gospel, but afterwards became a 
surgeon at Dubcross near Manchester. Mr Thorn 
wrote the account of the parish in Sinclair's statis- 
tical survey. There are old people still living who 
can recollect Mr Thorn, and who speak of him as 
being a man beloved by the parishioners, and faith- 
in the discharge 0f his ministerial duties. 

The Rev. 


was Mr Thorn's successor. At the time of his pre- 
sentation to the parish he was a teacher in Brechiu, 
He was licensed by the Presbytery of Brechin on 
10th August 1808, and ordained to Glenbervie on 
24th September, 1815. For eleven years be carried 


on his ministry in the old church beside the manse, 
but in 1826 a new church was built. After a 
ministry of over 50 years he died at Stonehaven in 
his 84th year on llth December, 1867. He married 
on 9th April, 1827, Helen, daughter of Mr Forrest, 
and sister to Dr Forrest of Tulloch in Garvock. 
They had a son James, a physician, who died from 
the effects of a fever caught in the discharge 
of his professional duties. 

There were also three daughters one of whom was 
married to the Eev. Mr Myres of Beiiholm, and 
another to the Rev. W. Gordon, who became Mr 
Drummond's assistant and successor. 

Mr Drummond wrote the second Statistical Ac- 
count of the parish in 1838, and published also a 
sermon entitled " The Warning Voice," preached 
at Stonehaven in 1844. 

Mr Drummond's ministry is still spoken of by the 
parishioners with great esteem. He was a man of 
some originality of character. As a scholar he was 
widely read, as a preacher he possessed uncommon 
gifts of oratorical language. His prayers were 
marked by superbuess of diction, whilst his 
sermons were marked by clearness of thought 
and beauty of language. He had a 
fund of humour mixed with a touch of satirical 
wit, which he could, as occasion needed, use with 
good effect. The anecdotes which are embodied in 
these chapters illustrate well this feature of his 

The following estimate of Mr Drummond is from 
the pen of one of his co -presbyters who knew him 
well, and whose judgment regarding him may be 
safely accepted. " In sententious wisdom, and in 
geniality of soul, he of all men I have ever known 
came nearest to my idea of what Socrates must have 
been. Unbounded in hospitality he at the same 
time never failed to regale his guests with " the 
feasf of reason and the now of soul." He retained 
his ripe scholarship even in old age. I remember 
once coming in upon him on a winter day, when 
I found him seated at the fireside, and, 
without aid either from dictionary or comment, 
reading a play of Aeschylus as easily as most 
ministers could read a play of Shakespeare. 
He was a polished preacher, and as a pastor ever 
ready to respond to the call of his people, going 
about among them continually doing good ; though 
with too much regard to the value of time both to 


thorn and to himself to be going about continually. 
In a word, in his own favourite Greek he was, as 
they would have expressed it " a King of Men." 

Mr Drummond was, as we have stated, succeeded 
by the Rev. 


his son-in-law. He was appointed assistant and 
successor in 1863, and received the full charge in 
1867. He was translated from the parish of Glen- 
bucket, and previously was assistant schoolmaster 
ivt Fyvie. 

Mr Gordon, in addition to the faithful and earnest 
discharge of his ministerial duties, has from 
the commencement of compulsory education 
lx>en a member of the School Board, 
whilst he was also for a very long time 
a useful member of the Parochial Board. During 
the thirty years in which Mr Gordon has ministered 
in the parish he has exercised a most beneficial 
influence on its affairs, and brought to bear on his 
work those excellent qualities which he certainly 
possesses in great measure sound common sense, 
fjroat tact, and wholesome counsel and advice. 
Recently a proof of the affection and esteem in 
which he is held among his people was afforded him 
by the election of his eldest son, the Rev. 


as his assistant and successor thus setting a pre- 
cedent unique in the ecclesiastical annals of the 
parish, of grandfather, father, and son, holding the 
ministry of the parish in succession. 

In common with other parts of the country the 
parish of Glcnbervie felt the throb of the movement 
which culminated in the " Disruption " of the 
Church of Scotland. For the following notes on 
the history of the Free Church we arc indebted to 
the present minister, the Rev. Mr Boyd. 

On the 16th of December, 1841, a meeting was 
held in Drumlithie presided over by Capt. James 
Burnett of Monboddo at which a 


far the parish was formed. Church defence at that 
period bore a different meaning, of course, from 
what it does now. 

The holding of the meeting was very keenly 
resented by Mr Drummond, the parish minister, 
and a correspondence ensued between him and the 


Chairman, which is very interesting in its way, 
but we cannot do more than refer to it. 

The " Church Defence Association " appointed a 
Committee of 21 members, the last survivor of whom, 
Mr Anderson, died a little more than a year ago. 
From its formation in December, 1841, till May, 
1843, quarterly meetings were held for the diffusion 
of information regarding the principles contended 
for, and the progress of the Church's conflict with 
the Courts of Law. On the 3rd May, 1843, when 
the Disruption had become inevitable by the rejec- 
tion of the Church's Claim of Right, and of a motion 
in Parliament for an inquiry into her grievances, a 
" Free Church Association " was formed, embrac- 
ing practically the same membership as the 
" Church Defence Association," which had pre- 
ceded it. 

Then came the Assembly, at which the Church 
was rent in twain. The out -going ministers in the 
Presbytery four in number immediately con- 
stituted themselves into a Presbytery of the Free 
Church. On the 19th of June a deputation from 
Glenbervie went to this newly formed Presbytery 
to ask for a supply of preaching and ordinances. 

On the 10th July a Communion Eoll was drawn 
up containing the names of 89 persons. The first 
Ccmmunion was held on the last Sabbath of July, 
1843, but there is no record of who officiated or 
who partook of the ordinance. It only appears 
that on 24th July, 1843, the Eev. James M'Gowan, 
Bervie, gave out tokens and admitted 12 young 
communicants. Worship was conducted for a time 
in a hall at the foot of the village of Drumlithie. 
It was connected with the old inn, which 
stood on the spot now occupied by the 
shops of Mr J. Mowat, bootmaker, and Mrs Milne, 
baker. But very soon steps were taken to 
build a church a site having been obtained on what 
was then known as the Cothillock. In due time 
the building was finished at a cost of between 300 
and 400. At first the affairs of the congregation 
were carried on by a Committee of Management. 
But at length on 24th November 1844, three elders and 
four deacons were ordained,thus constitutingaSession 
and Deacons Court. The names of the elders were 
George Kerr, Laddlestone, Alex. Barclay, Drum- 
lithie, and Robert Anderson, Drumlithie. The 
Deacons were John Brand, David Sinclair, William 


Balfour, and Thomas Gibson. All of these have 
now passed away. 

On the 5th December, 1844, 


probationer, upon the unanimous call of the con- 
gregation, was ordained and admitted as their first 
pastor, the Rev. George Philip of Stonehaven, (now 
Dr Philip of Free St John's, Edinburgh), conduct- 
ing the services. Under Mr Glen, the congregation 
became consolidated and 'increased in numbers. On 
the 8th of September, 1815, the number on the roll 
was 150, and with slight fluctuations that seems to 
have been about the average membership for a 
lengthened period. Within the last 25 years, how- 
ever, diminishing population has reduced it to about 
120, and about that figure it still remains, some- 
times rising a little above it, and at other times 
falling slightly below. 

The course of Mr Glen's ministry was quiet and 
uneventful. The universal testimony regarding 
him is that he was a sound and solid Gospel 
preacher and a faithful pastor, watching carefully 
over the life and jouduct of his people and earnestly 
seeking to promote their highest good. 

The church building proved very unsatisfactory, 
having been rushed up too rapidly and with insufficient 
inspection. Attempts to improve it and render it 
water-tight having failed, it was taken down and 
entirely rebuilt very nearly on the same site, the new 
building being opened on the loth September, 
1850. Before this time, in 1848, an additional piece 
of ground had been feued and a manse erected. In 
course of time a school was added to the congrega- 
tional organisation, which was taught by a female 
teacher, and carried on in the building now known 
as the Public Hall. It did good educational work 
in the district and was carried on successfully till 
the Education Act came in force in 1873 when it 
was handed over to the School Board. 

On the 26th July, 1863, a communion Sabbath, 
Mr Glen was stricken down in the pulpit when he 
had just given out the text of his Action 
Sermon, from Psalm 119, verse 174, " I have 
longed for Thy salvation O Lord." He was 
carried into the Manse, but never rallied, 
and died a few days after, leaving a fragrant 
memory. His last text is engraven on his tomb- 
stone in Glenbervie Churchyard. After a vacancy 
of some months, the 



a native of TJdny, Aberdeensnire, was ordained 
minister of the congregation on the 10th March, 
1864. After an earnest and efficient ministry of 
fully eleven years, Mr Cameron, by exposure to a 
snowstorm in the winter of 1874, fell into an ill- 
ness, which developed into consumption, and was 
removed by death in May, 1875. A man of 
sprightly and genial temperament, an accomplished 
scholar, and with pulpit gifts of no mean order, he 
is still remembered with affectionate esteem by not 
a few in the congregation. 

The vacancy which followed the death of Mr 
Cameron continued for about eight months. After 
a temporary division of opinion and feeling in the 
congregation, they came at length to a cordial 
agreement and unanimous choice of the present 


a native of Kilmamock, Ayrshire, who was har- 
moniously settled on the 15th of December, 1875.) 

For twenty years now Mr Boyd has most zealously 
attended to the spiritual wants of his flock, and is 
held by them in the greatest esteem. He is an 
efficient and intelligent member of both the School 
Board and the Parish Council, and was previously 
one of the elected representatives on the Parochial 
Board, in all of which offices he has done good work 
for the community amongst whom he labours. 




For the last two hundred years at least there has 
been an Episcopal Chapel at Drumlithie. The 
Episcopal Church in Scotland was disestablished in 
1689, and since that date Episcopalians have been 
settled in the village. The whole district, indeed, 
at certain periods during that time, was strongly 
Episcopalian, and the members attending the 
Drumlithie chapel were drawn from a considerable 
area around the church as a centre. There were 
mission stations at Redmyre, Arbuthnott, and other 
places dependent sometimes on Drumlithie and at 
other times on the church at Lanrencekirk. 

In common with other Churches in the county, 
the Episcopal Church in Drumlithie suffered in the 
troublous times of the Jacobite risings. 


The Episcopalians, it is well known, were strongly 
attached to the Jacobite cause, and when the stand- 
ard of the Earl of Mar was raised at Braemar in the 
interests of the il Pretender " many from this dis- 
trict, which was then strongly Jacobite went 
" over the mountains " to fight under Mar and 
the other Highland chiefs. Some of the 
adherents of the church at Drumlithie must have 
lived on the lands of the Earl Marischal, and it is 
probable that they had thus gone to swell the 
Jacobite forces. 

The rising was fruitless. The Pretender embark- 
ing at Montrose made for France, and the Episcopal 
Church was placed under penal laws. In 1718 a 
law was made that no Episcopal clergyman was to 
officiate in a congregation where more than 
nine persons, besides his own household were 
present, without praying in express words 
for the reigning king. This the Episcopal 
clergy would not do ; accordingly, they 
were gradually put out of their livings. 

At the time of the second Jacobite rising (1745) 
the Episcopal clergyman at Drumlithie was the 


The following year the chapel at Drumlithie, along 
/ with those at Muchalland Stonehaven was burned 
by the Duke oFCumberland, who was then in pur- 
suit of the ' ' Bonnie Prince Charlie. ' ' Consequently 
Mr Petrie was obliged to resort to a meeting house 
in order to preach to his followers. Part of that 
meeting house still remains, and forms the wall on the 
right hand side of the entrance to the present 
Rectory at Drumlithie. In these meeting houses not 
more than five persons coiild meet, for the penal 
laws against the Episcopalians had by this time 
been made more severe, because of the conviction 
the Government had that they were enemies to the 
reigning sovereign. Persons violating these laws 
were liable to a penalty of six months' imprison- 
ment for a first offence, and banishment to the 
West Indies (for life) for a second offence. 

Accordingly from various districts of the county 
persons were brought to give evidence before the 
Sheriff, as to whether they had heard or knew of 
divine service having been performed by any 
minister of the Episcopal communion, since the first 
of September, 1746. The object of this was to 
punish the twn-jurors, that is those pastor and 


people who refused to ia\e the oath of allegiance, 
and who continued to pray for the Prince, and not 
for his Majesty King George and his successors. On 
the thirty-first day of October, 1746, amongst a 
great many others, there were two William 
Thomson and James Beattio in Drumlithie who 
were thus judicially examined at Stonehaven. 
But the reply given by all of them on that occasion 
was in the negative. 

Two years later, however, three Episcopal clergy- 
men in the county, including Mr Petrie, were tried 
at Stonehaven before Sheriff Depute Young. 
Evidence was forthcoming against the three, the 
witnesses from Drumlithie against Mr Petrie being 
James Dickson in Kinnionth ; James Campbell at 
Mill of Glenbervie"7~an3~ Mr Eobert Murray at 
Strcpcnds. These all declared that Mr Petrie had 
preached in his house at Drumlithie. 

The defence set up in favour of all three was the 
same. They craved to be set free from the charge 
in respect that all the witnesses were socii criminis, 
in so far as they were guilty of offences themselves 
on the statute libelled, as being undue hearers at 
the times and places libelled, which subjected them 
to the penalty of five pound sterling, and conse- 
quently were gainers or losers by the cause, and 
that they did not inform within five days, 
and were there without his approbation or 
knowledge. The Procurator - Fiscal, however, 
repelled the defences, and the Sheriff 
found that they were all competent witnesses and 
continued the cause. 

Whatever may have been the sentence pro- 
nounced against Mr Petrie and the other clergymen, 
they were at all events confined in jthe old Tolbpoth 
at Stonehaven for six months during the winter of 
1748-49. Their followers during their imprison- 
ment gave them every attention, and ' ' contrived 
to convey plenty o' a' thing to them." The 
story of how the fisherwives contrived to 
get their children secretly baptised by clamber- 
ing up to the cell of ttyeir pastor is well 
known, although this ceremony was chiefly per- 
formed by Mr Troup and Mr Greig. On their 
liberation they returned to their respective charges, 
and preached to their adherents in private houses 
Mr Greig preaching in the meeting house already 

Matters went more quietly afterwards for the 


Episcopal Church, although during these troubled 
times the Church at large had been sadly stripped 
and impoverished both in regard to ministers and 
chapels. In 1088 she was governed by 
two Archbishops and twelve bishops, and 
served by nearly 1000 clergy, and tow 
after the lapse of a hundred years was reduced to 
sis Bishops and fifty clergy most of these living 
in the North Eastern counties of Scotland Aber- 
deenshire and the Meorns. 

Great was the desolation of the Episcopal 
Church in Scotland at this time. Nevertheless, here 
and there over the laud, congregations were gathered 
together, which allied themselves with the ritual 
and practice of the English Church. Hence 
arose the designation " English Kirk " as 
applied even yet in Drunilithie and else- 
where. These did not wish to throw in 
their lot with the Scottish branch of 
the church, and nothing was more natural than to 
adopt the forms of the English Church, and hence 
these were called the English Church in Scotland. 
On the repeal of the penal laws most of these joined 
again the Scotch Episcopal Church. 

To take the place of the church destroyed by 
Cumberland, the Episcopalians in Drumlitliie 
worshipped in an adjoining building, now occupied 
partly by Miss Annaudale. Part of this was 
formerly the Parsonage. This building was gilted 
by one Miss Turnbull, belonging to the 
church, and resident in the parish of Kinneff 
in which parish there were then a considerable 
number of adhernts to the church. A gallery run 
across the north and south end of the building, 
access to the south gallery being got by an outside 
stair. The pulpit stood on the west side, just 
where the entrance to the house is at present. The 
church or meetinghouse for very many years proved 
of great service to the members of the church who 
gathered there. 

The Rev. liobert Spark had charge of the church 
at Drumlithie towards the end of the 18th cenUiry. 
He was a native of Craigo, being the son tf a djjw- 
there. His lir.-t rhargti seems to have been the 
mission station at IJ^djnyrp, then dependent on the 
chui'ch at Laurencekirk. The penal laws at this 
time were still tmre pealed, and tin; greatest caution 
had to be observed iu carrying on his wurk. Infor- 
mation was, however, lodged against Mr Spark, 


and he was tried at the Circuit Court for having 
performed the marriage rite. When on his way 
riding between Stonehaven. and Aberdeen he passed 
the couple whom he had united. As they were bent 
on the same errand as himself he accosted them. 
"This will be a sair day for me," said the 
minister. Ow', fou will it be that, minister? 
fa can say I am. married," replied the man. 
and so it turned out as the man had anticipated. 
No witnesses appeared, and the case fell to the 
ground. Mr Spark continued to reside for some 
years at Eedmyre and discharge the two -fold office 
of teacher and pastor. 

Subsequently he was called to Drumlithie, and 
he continued there to discharge faithfully his duties 
to his flock till 1817. By this time the congrega- 
tion had been rallied together again. The penal 
laws against the church had been partially 
repealed in the last decade of the 18th century, 
and in course of time Mr Spark had so 
consolidated them that a new church was required. 
This church was built in 1818, and forms now St 
Jchn's Hall, and a part of the present Eectory. It 
was turned into a hall for the use of the young 
men some years ago. 

Mr Spark, the previous year, was translated to 
Laurencekirk, and held active charge there till 
1833, when he resigned. He died in 1837 in the 
eighty-first year of his -age and the fifty-seventh of 
his ministry. He was married to one Jean Beattie, 
a native of Laurencekirk. Her family was distantly 
related to that of the poet Beattie. She died in 
1838, the year after Mr Spark's death. 

The strong Jacobite leanings of Mr spark were 
transmitted to his family. His son, a surgeon in the 
East India Company's service, died at Bombay in 

From Fraser's History of Laurencekirk we take the 
following anent his three daughters, Jean, Margaret 
and Catherine. They possessed many interesting 
relics of the olden time, and their minds were 
stored with information on the more prominent 
events of the last century, and about the principal 
families of the county. Their Jacobite leanings 
were retained until the end of their daj's, but never 
offensively obtruded. Miss Margaret showed a 
portrait to u friend, asking, as she held it out, " Do 
you know who that is '( " " Oh yes ; it is the young 
i'rotender ! " was the mischievous reply. She held 


up both hands in amazement, exclaiming, 
"What!" " I mean, Its Prince Charles Edward 
Stuart." She calmed immediately "Ay, that 
mmi do. 

The first incumbent of the new Church was the 


and during the next fourteen years he carried on 
the work of the Church in a quiet and uneventful 
way. He resigned the charge in 1832 owing to an 
affection of the throat, and went abroad. 

During the next two years the Church was served 
by two clergymen who each stayed but a short 
time. The Rev. David Buchan officiated till May 

1833, and the Rev. John Oldfleld succeeded him 
but only remained till March 1834. This Mr Old- 
field was assistant to Mr Spark in Laurencekirk, 
and seems to have worked the charge at Drum- 
lithie at the same time as he helped Mr Spark. 

In 1834 the 


was appointed. He graduated M.A. at Aberdeen 
University in 1828. He was ordained Deacon in 

1834, and Priest in the following year by the Bishop 
of Edinburgh. Mr Webster remained seven years 
in Drumlithie when he was presented to the church 
of St John the Evangelist at New Pitsligo. Mi- 
Webster is still at Pitsligo, although he lie has 
retired from the more active duties of the charge. 

Following him came the 

He was a native of Peterhead, and was born in 1819. 
For a quarter of a century he ministered to the 
church at Drumlithie, but in 18GG he was incumbent 
ol St James' church, Stonehaven. 

He was a physician as well as a minister, and 
during that time he went in and out amongst tli 
people in the neighbourhood, administering com- 
fort and relief to their bodies an well as their souls. 
He was a man universally beloved for his kind 
works, and his memory is still held green in the 
hearts of those amongst whom he laboured so loug. 

Mninly through his exertions the present neat 
church was built. It was erected in 1803 after 
plans by the late, Mr Charles Brand of Fordoun, a 
valued member of his congregation. The 
church, which runs from east to west, is in 
the Gothic style, and consists of a nave and 
chancel, with vestry and organ chamber attached. 


The east window of three lights was placed there 
as a special memorial of the work of Dean Thorn. 
The first is the baptism of Christ by the Baptist in 
reference to the dedication of the church to St 
John. The second represents the Crucifixion, and. 
the third represents our Lord healing all manner of 
sickness and disease in allusion to the twofold work 
of the Dean as physician and clergyman. Under- 
neath is this inscription: 

" In memoriam viri admodum Eeverendi Roberti 
Kilgour Thorn, Decani, Brechinensis, quondam 
hujusce ecclesiac Parochi, nati, 15th Jan., 
MDCCCXIX, denati, 24th Jan., MDCCCLXXIV. 

Which translated reads : 

"In memory of the Very Eev. Robert 
Kilgour Thorn, Dean of Brechin, formerly clergy- 
man of this church. He was born 15th Jan., 1819, 
and died 24th Jan., 1874." 

Upon the present church is a shield charged in 
pale with the arms of the diocese and those of the 
late Bishop Forbes. It also bears his Lordship's 
initials and those of the Dean, and the date of the 
dedication of the church, 1863. The Dean is burried 
in the churchyard adjoining the church where his 
grave is marked by a handsome lona cross. 

Two other windows in the chancel contain 
memorials of former members of the congregation,one 
of them representing Christ blessing little children, 
being "to the greater glory of God, and in pious 
memory of Robert Dyce Smith placed in the church 
by his widow Margaret Smith, also in remembrance 
of their two children 1891." 

Mr Smith was long postmaster in the village, and 
besides being a valued member of the Episcopal 
Church, took a great interest in all thaj; was under- 
taken for the good of the district. 

Dean Thorn was succeeded by the 


He was incumbent from 1866 to 1883. Mr Gammack 
graduated at Aberdeen University in 1857 and 
studied theology at Trinity College Glenalmond. 
Ordained Deacon in 1859 and priest in 18G1, he held 
the charges successively of Tillymorgan in Aberdeen - 
shire, and Pitlochry in Perthshire. In 1866 he 
came to St. John's, Drumlithie. 

Mr Gammack was a man fond of literary pxirsuit, 
and specially devoting himself to antiquarian and 
theological research. He was a corresponding 


member of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland ; 
and a member of the Cambrian Archaeological 
Association. In addition he was the editor of 
the revised edition of Jervise's Memorials of Angus 
and the Mourn- \\-lnYli wa- ]mr(lv rewritten and 
corrected by him. He contributed in 1877 
a series of articles on Scotch, Irish, and 
Welsh Early Christians to Dr Smith's 
"Dictionary of Christian Biography," and another 
series of articles on Celtic Subjects to Arch's 
" Dictionary of Christian Antiquities." Mr Gam - 
mack resigned the charge at Drumlithie in 1883, and 
presently holds a charge in America, whither he 

The later incumbents of the church have been : 
Rev. Robert C. Johnstone (1883-1891); Rev. William 
Lumsden Walker (1891-1895.) 



The patron Saint of Glenbervie Kirk was St 
Michael, and this name is preserved in Michael 
Fair, still held annually at Drumlithie, although 
like other fairs the glory is departed from it. 
Probably this fair had at one time been held at 
Glenbervie. At Dellevaird stood St Mary's chapel, 
and that place there is still a spring called " Mary's 

The present 


stands on a rather bleak spot 011 the north side of 
road passing Glenbervie House. It was built in 
1826 and is a substantial and commodious 
building. During the summer of 1826 
" the dry summer," or as it is some- 
times significantly designated the " year of 
short corn," the Rev. Mr Drummoud, then minis- 
ter, preached to his hearers in the graveyard. 

Amidst the 


of that old churchyard from Sunday to Sunday, 
during all that long summer did tfie worthy Mr 
Drummond preach to his flock. And we have often 
thought that there were here the elements of a 
picture worthy of the brush of a Collins or a 
Wilkie. One has seen weird and yet telling pictures 
of the old Covenanters on the bleak hillside, stand- 


ing not with the Bible and psalm-book only, but 
also with the sword or the spear ; but here all fear 
was absent, except perhaps the fear of God which 
pervaded the sincere band of worshippers. The 
troubled face of the stern Covenanter gives place to 
the holy calm of the peaceful Christian ; the bleak 
hillside is changed into the quiet God's acre ; while 
the minister eagerly holds forth to his gathered flock 
some resting on the mossy , tombstone, others 
sheltered under the nodding trees. 

At the sight of the greenness and gladness that 
surrounds the city of the dead, he tells his hearers 
of a fairer land, in which there shall be eternal day; 
with the murmur of waters in their ears, he tells 
them of the river of life of which if one should 
drink he should never thirst ; as the lark rose, 
soaring and singing from its grassy bed and mingled 
betimes its song with that of the worshippers, he 
spoke to them of the heavenly choirs, in the New 
Jerusalem, and of the sweeter music there ; pointing 
to the roofless Temple of God he told them of a 
Temple of God not made with hands eternal in the 
heavens ; and ere he handed round to them the 
bread and wine on the calm bright Communion Sun- 
day, he told them of the Bread of Life and the poured 
Blood that would be unto them a sufficient and an 
abiding spiritual nourishment. 

The old church occupied a very attractive and 
desirable spot. It stood beside the Manse 011 the 
north bank of the Bervie, and was surrounded by 
fine old trees, many of them still standing, round 
which the ivy hangs in green profusion. 

The interesting old graveyard surrounding it 
slopes gently to the south, and contains many 
curious epitaphs engraved on the tombstones. 

The old church was partly rebuilt in 1771, and in 
1794, as stated in Sinclair's Statistical Account was 
" in good condition, but ill-contrived and too small." 
The Manse was built in the first quarter of the 
Eighteenth Century, probably about 1725. The 
stipend in 1794 was 56 bolls of meal, 32 of bear, 
and 43 17s lO^d in money, including 5 for com- 
munion elements. 

Tn the parish at that time there were 200 Scotch 
Episcopalians, 1 Seceder, and 1 llomaii Catholic, 
and as the population was then above 1300 the 
remaining 1100 were probably connected with the 
Parish Church, and as we have seen it was con- 
sidered too small. 


The church ran from east to west, the burial 
vault of the Douglas family, forming the chancel 
end of the kirk. This vault still stands covered with 
ivy and shaded by trees. The only other part of 
the church that remains is a pillar containing a brass 
plate commemorating the members of the family of 
Stuarts of Inchbreck. 

There was a gallery in the church and an out- 
side stair leading to the Glenbervie Loft. As was 
usual in parish churches certain seats were allotted 
to the poor, but the rest of the church was let. The 
description given of the church seats in the old 
Session Registers was very specific. 

The following are some of the entries regarding 
the letting : 

" Long Dask alias Cowden's Dask, containing 
five persons. 

Robert Brand took 2 Rooms ; 

James Ritchie took 2 Rooms ; 

Robert Spark took 1 Room ; 
whereto he has right without payment." 

" Crooked Dask, including yt., under ye Stair, 
containing 7 persons." 

" James Lawrence in Easttown his right to a 
Room in ye Crooked Dask (ut supra) was sustained 
relevant. Likeways ye above said Robert Spark 
was sustained for a Room in Cowden's Dask without 
payment, both of ym having Acts of ye Session in 
their favours." 

The price of the seats in the Church was by no 
means uniform, as the following resolution of the 
Session will show. "The Session layes on half a 
merk, Scotts, to be pay'd for each room in ye Dasks 
in ye body of ye Church, except John Greig's, 
which is only a groat per room. Likeways on ye 
left 4 shills, Scotts, for each room in ye breists of 
it, and 2 shills, Scots, for each room over ye whole of 
ye rest of it. 

Occaasioually also the Session was turned into a 
Court before which certain of the congregation asser- 
ted their rights to their seats. "Eodem die John 
Brand in Foord and Robert Brand in Quithle brother 
to ye said John Brand made it clearly evident 
that ye Dask yt stands at ye back of Minister's 
Dask did properly belong to ym, witnesses attesting 
that ye said Brand's father bought from one 
Robert Brand in Upper Kinmonth and possessed it 
many years. Therefor ye Session continues, ye 
said Brands in possession of it." 


The two inscriptions in the Douglas vault having 
been already noticed we will here give a few of the 
more interesting 

in the kirkyard. 


John S. of Eobert Heross in Lumgair, d. 1737, 
a. 25 : 

As many says, she who here lays 

Was vertious, wise, and chaste ; 
She being dead, we do believe 

Hir soul to glory past. 

An inscription from a table stone presents some 
pretty long ages. 

John Lyall, many years in Mill of Glenbervie, 
died 13th October 1830 aged 84 ; Christian Austine 
his wife died 3rd Nov. 1833 aged 79 ; Their family 
George, merchant in Aberdeen died 1861 aged 78 ; 
John, farmer, Mill of Glenbervie, died 1861, aged 
81 ; Helen died 1863 aged 72 ; and David, merchant, 
Aberdeen, died 1866 aged 80. 
From a flat slab the following is taken. 
Here lyes John Taylour, husband to Margaret 
Blebear, sometime in Quithill, who dyed the 18 day 
of Aprile 1727, and of age 59. This relict still in 
road of duties bear for which she has obtained a 
lasting name. 

The next one relates to one Greig and his 
colleague Watson, both joiners to trade, the latter 
belonging to Kinneff . 

In memory of David Greig : his age was 28 and 
death sudden on the sea beach of Aberdeen, August 
6th, 1818. 

Young sprightly lads as you pass by 
Stop and review how low I lie ; 
My colleague fell close by my side, 
At nine we were as brisk as ye, 
At ten were in eternity ; 
Swept by a strong refluent tide. 

I twenty-eight 
He twenty-four, 
One fatal wave 
Did both devour. 

Consider then our sudden fate, 
Think of your own ere yet too late ; 
And by faith to the Saviour flee ; 
And be that great redemption sought 
Which with His precious blood He bought 
Then even death your friend shall be. 


The next two inscriptions arc from headstones. 

The Rev. Andrew Glen, of Free Church Glen- 
bervie, died 4th August, 1863, aged 67. " Who for 
19 years taught them publicly and from house to 
house, making full proof of his ministry, with 
what success the great day will disclose. It is their 
comfort, under their sore bereavement, to believe 
that he has obtained the desire of his heart, so 
beautifully expressed in his last text " I have 
longed for Thy salvation." 

James Drummond, M.D., only son of the Rev. 
James Drummond, minister of this parish, bom 
l-2th Jan., 1836, died at Brechin, 16th March, 1859. 
The said Rev. James Drummond died llth Dec., 
1867 in the 83rd year of his age, and 52nd of his 

The Rev. Mr Drummond' s son, a skilful physi- 
cian, caught fever while in his professional duties, 
from the effects of which he died. The Rev. Mr 
Drummond married a sister of Dr Forrest of Tulloch 
in Garvock commemorated in the following in- 
scription : 

In memory of Alexander Forrest of Tulloch in 
Garvock, who died at Hillside of Hedderwick, 13th 
June, 1862, aged 75. 

Dr Tulloch made money abroad, and bought the 
property of Tulloch, in which he was succeeded by 
a sister, on whose death in 1867, it came to her 
nephew, Mr James Scott, Solicitor, Stonehaven. 

There are of course also the Bums tombstones 
which contain near the foot the ordinary carvings of 
an hour glass, mattock, spade and skull, &c. 



The year 1895 marks a turning-point in the his- 
tory of parochial legislation in Scotland. The 
old order change th, and Parish Councils have taken 
the place of the Parochial Boards. 

Perhaps we are too near to take a comparative 
view of the work that has been done by them since 
1845, when they were inaugurated, but, judged as 
a whole, it will be admitted that they have done 
their work in an efficient and economical manner, 
and with a due regard to the interests of all con- 


It is commonly supposed that there have been 
Parochial Boards in Scotland only since 
the passing of the Poor Law Act half a century 
ago. But such is not the case. There has been a 
Parochial Board in Scotland ever since the Refor- 
mation, for watching over the interests of the poor, 
although the constitution of that Board has from 
time to time undergone considerable alterations. 

A short historical retrospect when we are, as now, 
at " the parting of the ways " may not, therefore, be 
out of place here, before we glance at old church 
life in Glenbervie. 

_ For the first three decades after the Reforma- 
tion, the care of the poor, so far as 
that was provided for by the civil law 
was, in the case of landward parishes, entrusted to 
Justices appointed by the 


Of course in the early days the Reformed Church 
there was an ecclesiastical administration of charities 
as well as collections. This continued till 1597. 

In that year this jurisdiction was vested in Kirk 
Sessions, and in 1672 it was committed to the 


of each parish conjointly, and in their hands it 
continued till the passing of the Act of 1845. 

During the next half century (1845-1895) there 
was in every parish a Parochial Board. It consisted 
of the owners of lands and heritages of the 
yearly value of 20, the Provost and Bailies of 
Royal Burghs, several members of Kirk-Session, 
and several elected representatives of the remnant 
ratepayers. The 


made up the roll of the Poor, fixed the allowances 
for paupers, and imposed assessments for the 
support of the poor. The executive officer of the 
Parochial Board was the Inspector of Poor, his 
duties being to inquire into and report on the cir- 
cumstances of each applicant for relief, and to 
convey to paupers the allowances granted by the 

The salaried officers of the Parochial Board trans- 
ferred their services, in accordance with the provisions 
of the Parish Councils Act, to the Parish Council, and 
the Inspector of Poor is henceforth designated 
Parish Clerk. 

Possibly, in the near future, the Parish Councils 


may be entrusted with other concerns than the 
care of the poor, but it is sincerely to be hoped that 
the new and more directly representative body will 
deal as kindly and considerately with all the interests 
entrusted to its care as the persons charged with 
parochial administration have done in the past. 

In the past the Church of Scotland has looked 
upon it as part of her duty to provide for the poor. 
Indeed the Scottish Reformers regarded this as a 
part of Christianity itself and took care to see it 
properly carried out. The First Book of Discipline 
has it expressly stated that " every several Kirk 
must provide for the poor within itself." 

Whence came the funds then out of which the 
poor got their allowance ? These were various. We 
shall glance at them and see how many of these 
sources of supply were available in Glenbervie. 
The chief sources of provision in the past were 1st, 
assessment ; 2nd, church collections ; 3rd, fines ; 
4th, dues and fees; 5th, bell-penny; 6th, mort- 
cloth ; 7th benefactions ; 8th, interest on stock ; 
and lastly, sale of pauper's effects. 

Nineteen years after the Reformation an Act of 
Parliament was passed, by which the judges in 
landward parishes were empowered to tax and stent 
the whole inhabitants " according to the estimation 
of their substance," in such weekly charges as were 
necessary for the support of the poor of the parish. 

There seems to have been, however, a disinclina- 
tion to impose this tax, and as far as can be learned, 
the assessment was never levied in Glenbervie, or 
indeed, in Kincardineshire. Says a writer 
of the early part of the present century 
" The wealthy have hitherto had too much good 
sense to admit of it, and the indigent have not been 
contaminated with the corrupting and degrading 
principle. Very few of our poor would accept of a 
parochial donation without the most urgent cause. 
Hence the benevolent feelings have room to operate." 

There was a laudable spirit shown here on both 
sides. The Heritors and Kirk Session showed a dis- 
inclination to adopt new schemes that involved tax- 
ation, whilst on the other hand the poor showed that 
manly independence so characteristic of the Scotch 
people. But what do we of the present 
day think when we hear the principle of taxation 
for the poor described no longer ago than the 
beginning of the present century as " corrupting 
and degrading." Verily the times are changed ! 


We shall notice as the second source of provision 
for the poor, the church collections, although they 
might have been set down as the primary source of 

Voluntary collections for the poor were common 
in most parishes long before the stent or tax was 

The common method of taking up the collections ,al - 
though varying from time to time over the church at 
large,has always been with theold-fashionedladle.In- 
deed, at the present time, that is the plan adopted 
in Glenbervie Church. 

How much the collections amounted to in these 
olden days it is not easy to learn. There were 
many causes which would make them fluctuate. 
An unpopular minister, secessions, civil disturb- 
ances, weather and many others would all have a 
disturbing effect on the amount of coppers put into 
the church coffers. It does not appear that 
Glenbervie was much troubled with either 
of the first two of these, though 
no doubt along with her neighbours she shared in 
the troxiblous times of the Jacobite risings. 

The collections of course at communion seasons 
exceeded largely in amount the ordinary weekly 
ones. Besides these, there were special collections 
for special purposes, which would not commend 
themselves now to. the good offices of the Kirk, 
for example, the upbuilding and pulling down of 
bridges, or in aid of other public works in which 
the Church was interested. There are entries to be 
found in nearly all the parish records regarding 

For example on July 16, 1656 a 


was appointed to be made throughout the parish 
of Arbuthnott, for the behoof of one Andrew Crag, 
a poor and sick man, put under the cure of George 
Muschal, physician in Drumlithie. On the follow- 
ing week, in the same place, a collection amounting 
to five merks was made for the relief of some 
Englishmen taken prisoners by Turkish pirates. 

In the year 1729 the Kirk-session of Glenbervie 
contributed 1 (Scots) " to help up with a bridge 
in ye parish of Benholui," and a little later (Oct. 5) 
3 ' ' to ye uppulling of a bridge over the water of 
Cowie." Seemingly the uppulling of the one bridge 
was accounted of three times more value in the 


eyes of the Kirk-session, thnn the putting up of the 
one at the coast-side. 

The church door collections at the Kirk of Glen- 
bervie for the last quarter of 1747 and the first 
month of 1748 were as follows : 

1747, October, J .. .. 1 17 8 
November, . . . . 1 17 5 
December, .. .. 142 

1748, January, . . . . 2 9 10 

7 9 1 

And in addition to this there were added in the 
way of penalties another 8, making for the four 
months a total of 15 9s Id. 

Assuming this to be a fair average of 
the weekly collections over the year, there would 
be collected annually from collections alone close 
on 90 Scots money. The fines of course were con- 
siderable also. At the Sacramental diets the 
collections were much larger than usual. For 
example in 1753 these amounted to 20 16s 6d. In 
that year the Session disbursed 72 Is 7d out of a 
total income of 90 4s 2d, leaving in tho Treasurer's 
hands as a nest egg something over 18 Scots. 

AVhou the first Statistical Account was written a 
hundred years ago, the weekly collections averaged 
about 8s. These statistics do not show how much 
was given by the individual worshipper on the 
Sabbaths long ago, whether it was the time- 
honoured halfpenny or penny that was dropped into 
the plate or ladle, or how many passed by. But 


in his " Holy Fair," came pretty near the truth 
when he describes the usual contributions to the 

" When by the plate we set our nose, 

"Weel heaped up wi' ha' pence, 
A greedy glowr black bonnet throws, 
And we maun draw oor tippence." 
Probably the larger sura from the fact that he was 
accounted a man of more than ordinary consequence. 

The only record of Glenbervie Church extant, 
and from which the above facts have been taken, 
gives us presumably the amount of the collections 
in good money, but makes no mention of the 

although, no, doubt, these had crept into the ladles 


of G-lenbervie as they did elsewhere. Sometimes 
the proportion of good to bad was as three to two. 
But even these were turned to good account in the 
cause of the poor. For, occasionally, when a con- 
siderable number had gathered in the Treasiirer's 
hands he was instructed to dispose of them to the 
best advantage. 

In 1786 the Kirk Session " on inspecting their 
funds found they had a considerable quantity of 
bad halfpence which they agreed should be sold in 
Aberdeen. The quantity of bad halfpence in the 
box amounted to no less a sum than 10 8s l|d " 
(Scots). As late as 1800 the Treasurer reported 
that the quantity of bad halfpence collected for 
some time past and amassed in his hands amounted 
. t to nearly twelve pounds stg. The meeting 
was of opinion that it would be very 
prejudical to the interests of the poor to 
dispose of all the above sum for bad copper, 
and that as a considerable part of them 
consisted of mint halfpence they might still circul- 
ate in some after time, therefore resolved to keep 
them for some time." In this their judgment was 
at fault, for the following year the Treasurer had sor- 
rowfully to report " that as no hopes remained that 
the bad halfpennies lately in his hands would ever 
circulate, he had sold the whole amounting to 
3 5s 3d to a copper-smith. That the weight of 
the whole is 661 2s, on which at the rate of lOd 
per 6 Dutch weight, and after deducting 8d for 
carriage, amounts to 2 10s 3d as per cash book." 

Of course it must not be presumed that the poor 
received the full collections. The other expenses 
connected with the church had also to be bonie, 
the stipends of the Session Clerk, precentor, and 
beadle having to be met out of them. 

In judging of the Christian liberality of 
the church one must remember that money 
went a good deal further a century ago than 
it does now, and consequently a penny represented 
far more than it does now. 

It may be asked how the very considerable sums 
of money thus collected were disbursed. This was 
commonly done in the early days of the Reformed 
Church through the 


an office whose duties, according to the statement 
in the Second Book of Discipline (1578), was 


" to receave and to distribute the haill ecclesiastical 
gudes unto them to whom they are appoyntit." 
But in practice it was not found practicable to flnd 
say half-a-dozen men suitable for the deaconate 
and other six for the eldership in every parish. 
Consequently the duties of the deacons were con- 
joined to those of the elders. Thus the 


long ago performed the duties of Inspector of Poor. 
They were not paid, however, for the work they 
did, but they gave a general oversight of the poor 
in their respective districts, reported any cases that 
came under their observation, and carried to the 
poor whatever gratuities the session thought fit 
to grant. 

When, in 1672, the care of the poor 
in each parish was vested in the elders 
and heritors conjointly it became neces- 
sary to appoint a Treasurer, who rould from 
time to time furnish the Kirk Session with a state- 
ment of the moneys actually received and disbursed. 
Especially was this necessary where the number of 
paupers was considerable, or the funds were large. 
The meetings of the Kirk Session with the 
Heritors would be but seldom, perhaps not 
above once a year, and so the Kirk Session had to 
account for their intromissions, sometimes over a 
considerable period. 

The Treasurer of the Kirk Session was often known 
as the 


from the fact that kirk Sessions had in Ihose days 
what was known as a Kirk box. Into that box all 
the collections, or whatever was left after the weekly 
distribution was over, went Sabbath by Sabbath, 
and at the end of the financial year the 
box was opened, and its contents were examined 
and counted. 

The office of Boxmaster or Treasurer seems to 
have been of some consequence in those days, nor 
is this to be wondered at when he had, so to speak, 
the command of the moneys within the power of 
the Kirk Session. 

It may interest some to know that one of the 
Burns family was so highly esteemed in Glenbervie 
in his own day as to be elected Boxmaster. 

This was 

of Hawkhill, son of William Burncss of Bogjorgan. 


An entry in the Register of Discipline and 
Accounts, dated June 20, 1726, bears that 
" James Burness in Hawkhill was elected Bos- 
master by a majoritie of votes." 

On October 22nd of the following year, the 
Session again met, and " verified all their accounts 
since their last meeting on that account, and found 
them all right at which time James Burness in 
Hawkhill resigned his office as Box-master, after he 
had given a clear count and reckoning to the rest of 
the members. The elders hold themselves content 
and well satisfied, and oblidged themselves to pay 
to the said James Burness the sum of nine 
pounds thirteen shillings and four pennies 
Scots, he having disbursed so much more to 
the poor than he received on their account. It was 
then put on the Leit, whether John Hog, James 
Burness, or Archibald Eeith should be Boxmaster, 
and James Burness was chosen by a majority of 
votes." This would seem to indicate that James 
Burness not only performed all the duties of Box- 
master with exactness and care, but that also he 
had gained the confidence of the Kirk Session in 
this important position in' the parish. 

Indeed it would appear from an entry dated 
October 31st, 1747, that he had retained 
this office for over twenty years. The 
entry is as follows: "This day the Session 
being met and constitute, granted a discharge to 
James Burness in Hawkhill for faithfully discharg- 
ing the office of Treasurer from the time of his 
incumbency to this present time." 

In many parishes in Scotland the office of 
Boxmaster or Treasurer was not without its 
.disadvantages. There are to be found in all small 
communities, such as in the rural parishes, those 
who are ready to put all manner of constructions 
on one's best intentions and actions. The work of 
the fault finder is an easy one. Not so that of 
the one who is ever in the gaze of the whole public 

But from the entries above quoted, and from 
frequent references to his " distributions " through- 
out the Glenbervie Register during the time he was 
Treasurer, it would seem thnt James Burness not 
only justified the confidence reposed in him by the 
Kirk Session, but also inspired such a trust in his 
prudence nnd knowledge of human nature as allowed 
him to bestow liberally of his own accord out of the 


Session funds for the necessitous poor. 

We quote the following entries in illustration : 
Given out to sundry poor by Hawkhill, . . 14 12 2 
HawkhilTs expences for going to Aberdeen, 3 12 

Disbursed by Hawkkill, 33 8 7 

Many more might be given, but these will suffice. 
While disbursements were made by others of the 
Kirk Session it is to be remarked that those of 
Hawkhill generally exceeded the others. Possibly 
being Treasurer, all vagrants, strangers and others 
who shared in the bounty of the Kirk 
in those days might have found their way 
to Hawkhill in hopes that his pity would be excited, 
and the appeal of his illustrious descendant *' to 
gently scan his brother-man" being brought forth, 
he might be induced to advance a dole out of his 
private purse, to be afterwards reimbursed out of 
the Kirk Funds. And if this kindly "keeper of 
the poor" had any of the generous pity and human 
sympathy for all created brings which was so often 
shown by the illustrious Bard, one can readily 
imagine that no deserving suppliant would leave 
his door empty-handed. t 

And it was in these" circumstances that the 
Treasurer's knowledge and good sense were brought 
into play. For, unlike the present mode of distri- 
bution, the weekly allowances varied not only from 
week U> week but in different parislu-s. There was 
no uniform mode of distribution over all Scotland. 
Kirk Sessions being dependent largely on the 
voluntary collections at the Kirk had just to cut 
their coat according to their cloth. If the Session 
had little to give, so much the worse for the poor, 
and if they were opulent so much the better. 

According to the circumstances of the suppliant 
and the amount of funds in hand, the relief varied, 
in tilenbervie, from two shilliugs to a pound, or 
more, of course Scots money. 

Help was not only given in money but in kind. 
Meal was sometimes given, the amount being from 
half a peck to a peck every week for each person. 

Board was sometimes afforded to foundlings and 
others, whilst boots, clothes, and other articles of 
wearing apparel were occasionally given. But 
whilst the temporal wants of the needy parishioners 
were thus ministered to, their spiritual needs were 
also looked after, for an entry dated Nov. 3rd, 1729 
indicates that a Bible, costing then 1 Is, was given 
to David Peel. 




The present age knows nothing of monetary 
penalties enacted by Kirk Sessions from moral 
delinquents. But long ago this formed another 
source of revenue for the church. In Gleubervie 
these presumably went into the Treasurer's box 
along with all the other collections, although in 
some parishes they had a separate box assigned for 
their reception, and were often applied to other 
purposes than the relief of the poor. 

The penalty varied with the gravity of the 
offence. The sum of 8 Scots, appears very often 
in the list of penalties for Glenbervie. With a 
laudable zeal for the interests of the poor who 
benefited by these fines, the Kirk Sessions were 
most scrupulous in the enaction of them. In the 
first week of January, 1723, the Kirk Sessiofi of 
Glenbervie ordered their officer to summon all those 
who were owing penalties to compear before the 
Session " on Saturday next in order either to pay 
their penalties or to find sufficient cautionary for 

The Session Records of Glenbervie show that for 
the year 1726 the amount of penalties was 27, but 
from other evidence this would appear to have 
been a smaller sum than was usually got 
from this source. In addition to their penalties, 
parties undergoing church censure had to be 
rebuked publicly for three successive Sundays 
before they received" absolution from fornication." 

Kirk Sessions would find it a hopeless task to -day 
to exercise its functions as guardians to the public 
morals in the manner practised of old, but even one 
hundred and fifty years ago, when the common 
penalty for delinquents was, in addition to their 
" fine," to sit the " stool of repentance," their 
officer had often to make two or three visits to 
secure the attendance of culprits before the ecclesi- 
astical tribunal. Human nature resents com- 
pulsion, and it appears that in the quiet 
rural parish of Glenbervie then, some were bold 
enough to withstand the requests of the Kirk- 
Session, so much so that the terror of being haled 
before the Presbytery alone had the effect of mak- 
ing them repent. Some, at least, of the more remote 


ancestors of the illustrious bard were in this ex- 
tremity, and " they not attending, the Session 
delays to make any further procedure in ye affair 
tiLl the minister acquaint the Presbytery and have 
their advice." Evidently the terrors of the 
Presbyterial jurisdiction had been too much for 
them, for immediately followed the " representa- 
tion " of the minister to the Session that " J.B. 
came to him and payed his penaltie and his parties, 
and that he had given him a, receipt for it." 


Kirk Sessions from a very early period were accus- 
tomed to keep one or more mort cloths to be used at 
funerals by all who could afford to pay for them. 
These sometimes brought in a considerable sum. 
The law regarding these has thus been stated, and 
Kirk Sessions took good care that their privileges 
should not be undermined either by private individ- 
uals or corporations, although, no doubt, in Glen- 
bervie there would be no one to lend out mort 
cloths in opposition to the Session. ' ' Kirk Sessions, 
by immemorial usage, may acquire the exclusive 
right of letting out mort cloths to hire within the 
parish, and of charging certain dues therefor, 
which are generally appropriated to the use of 
the poor. Corporations or private associations 
may, by similar usage, acquire a joint right to let 
out mortcloths for hire, but, except where such a 
right has been so acquired, no individual nor associ- 
ation can let out mortcloths to the prejudice of the 
Kirk Session's privilege. Private individuals may 
no doubt use mortcloths belonging to themselves, 
but they cannot lend them out to others even 
gratuitously ; nor it should seem, can a number of 
individuals subscribe for the purchase of a mort- 
cloth for their joint use, although nothing be 
charged to each individual on the occassion of its 
being required, as this would effect an evasion of 
the privilege of the Kirk Session." There was one 
in Gleubervie for the use of the parish, and another 
one was presented to the Kirk Session by Mr Lyall, 
long in the Mill of Glenbervie. 

In the matter of 


by pious donors for religious and charit- 
able purposes the parish of Ulenbervie has 
a few, although none of them are of 
great value. The following nre the principal 
bequests : 1 the Christie bequest, 2 the Keith 


bequest, 3 the Charles bequest, 4 the Lawson 
bequest, 5 the Forrest, 6 the White, 7 
the Gordon. The first of these the Christie- 
was left by one Alexander Christie, a son of one 
Thomas Christie, who was sometime a merchant 
and Piovost of Montrose. He married one Mar- 
garet Thomson, the eldest daughter of William 
Thomson, merchant in Drumlithie. (She died 
in August 1787, in the seventy - sixth year 
of her age, her husband having predeceased her by 
twenty-one years. To perpetuate her memory and 
to provide for the poor he left in 1787 first, 25, 
and in the following year other 25. The interest 
of this was to be applied principally to " the aged 
the distrait at that time, or those who have numerous 
families regard being always had first to any of 
my own relations, if residing in the parish next to 
those of the name of Thomson, providing always 
that such persons be really in indigent circum- 
stances." Mr Christie seems to have had not only 
u clear head but a kind heart, and he concluded his 
letter to Mr Thorn , then minister, in these terms : " I 
hope that what I have so freely and voluntarily 
given may, by the blessing of God, be of everlasting 
and essential service to your poor, and I wish 
health and happiness to you and each individual of 
your society." 

The Charles Bequest will be noticed further on. 
The Lawson Bequest' was a sum of two hundred 
pounds, " mortified to ye poor in this parish," by 
one William Lawson about 1720. 


Fees and Dues in Glenbervie, as in other parts 
of the country, were exacted from various 
sources. In the case of marriage there 
was latterly a graduated scale of three charges pay- 
able according as the intending contracting parties 
were " cried " once twice or thrice. Thei*e must 
have been, however, previously only the one charge, 
as there was, except in very exceptional cases only 
one mode of proclamation in Scotland, namely once 
on each of three consecutive Sabbaths. Of course 
the fee was not uniform all over Scotland. Local 
circumstances may have determined it being higher 
in some parishes than in others. The gi'aduated 
t-cale in Glenbervie was 12s tid for one proclam- 
ation ; 7s (id for two ; and 4s Gd for three times. 
(Jf course this is all altered now. The statutory fee 


of 2s 6d of necessity forced Kirk Sessions to reduce 
their charges to the same level. The graduated 
scale seems to have arisen from the action of the church 
in demanding as the price of a favour a higher fee 
the extra charge as usual goiug either to benefit the 
poor or for some other charitable end. Whether 
legal or not people seem to have considered it just 
as prudent to pay the higher fee as wait for the 
proclamation to be carried over three suc- 
cessive Sundays. The kirk officer had also 
to be paid his dues. In Gleubervie, as 
elsewhere, these were granted, both at 
funerals and marriages to the officer. Whether 
there was ever a fixed charge for his offices on these 
occasions is doubtful, but, at anyrate, a voluntary 
contribution was forthcoming which the officer, no 
doubt, looked upon as his if not by legal sanction, at 
least, by immemorial usuage. This 


as it was called expresses very significantly the 
purpose for which the dues were paid. It was the 
duty of the officer to open the kirk door at 
marriages, and also on sad as well as glad occa- 
sions to ring the kirk bell. Even when 
marriages were discontinued in church the 
kirk officer was most diligent in demanding 
his usual perqusites. These were sometimes paid 
in money, and sometimes in kind, meal being often 
given. In Gleubervie when the marriage ceremony 
was completed it was the custom of the officer to 
pass round the company in anticipation of his usual 
dues, or, if the marriage was in church, to 
meet the wedding guests on their departure from 
the kirk. Previous to marriage it was customary 
for the contracting parties to give a "bond" or 
"caution." "The consignation free or bond," 
says Edgar, " was a pledge of two things first, 
that the parties seeking proclamation of banns 
would proceed in due course to the solemnis- 
ation of marriage, and secondly, that 
they would marry without scandal." The object 
of exacting the bond seems to have been like most 
of the other practices of the old Kirk to swell the 
church's finances, which were devoted as usual 
either to the use of the poor or other deserving ob- 
ject. If money was not forthcoming it was com- 
mon in many places to leave rings, plaids, or other 
article of some considerable value. Very often the 
name of some mutual friend of the bride and bride* 


groom, or other suitable person was given as 
" cautioner." This seems to have been the regular 
practice in Glenbervie, in Illustration of which we 
quote a few extracts from the Registers. 

" February 8th, 1747. This day William Officer 
and Ann Spark gave up their names to be proclaimed 
in order to be married. Cautioner for the man 
James Beattie, jur., and John Spark for the 

" April 4th, 1747. This day David Beattie in 
Mary Parish (Marykirk ?) and Elizabeth Ross in the 
parish of Glenbervie gave up their names to be pro- 
claimed in order to be married. Cautioner for them 
both William Wishart in Mains of Glenbervie." 

" The same day John Gavin and Margaret Beattie 
in this parish gave up their names. Cautioner for 
the man William Burness in Brawlinmuir, 
and for the woman, John Watson in Bogtown." 

A feature of old church life and work, quite 
iincommon in our own day, was the granting of 
bills and bonds out of the accumulated funds of the 
Kirk. This was quite common all over the country. 
In Glenbervie these were relatively very large, and 
the Session seems to have granted bills for very 
considerable amounts. The interest of these went 
of course into the exchequer of the Kirk,and was a 
source of revenue whence the poor or other 
expenses of the Kirk were as usual paid. Indeed, 
the Session seems to have been most scrupulous in 
the enaction of the interest on these, and did not 
hesitate to threaten those who were dilatory or 
unwilling to pay with prosecution at the law. On 
June 12th, 1725, for example, the " Session took 
into consideration a bond of five hundred merks 
offered by ye Laird of Glenbervie but would not 
accept it in ye terms he offered it, wheref or they 
resolved to commence a legal prosecution and 
accordingly ordered a letter to be written to ye 
Laird of Bukkie, and thereby intimate their 
Resolution." A month later, however, a letter 
from the Laird was received, which had the effect 
of making them delay procedure. In March of the 
following year " the Session gave a discharge to 
George Gordon, jr. of Bukkie, of two bonds granted 
by Mr Robert and Thomas Burnett of Glenbervie, 
and received two bonds, one from the ^aid George 
Gordon of Bukkie and and another from William 
Nicolson of Gleubervie." 


In the following year the Session, apparently 
with the idea that they were to lose some of the 
money which they, no doubt remember- 
ing the parable of the slothful servant, 
had put out to usury, " decreed that the 
Bills belonging to David Walker which were lodged 
in James Bunies hand, treasurer.should be arrested 
till payment and satisfaction should be made of the 
said money 'to the said Session, and for the better 
accomplishing of yt elected Andrew Brown treasurer 
for yt effect." Other entries show that Glenbervie 
Session had granted " ye carent of 300 merks to 
Kirk Session of Montrose," and other sums to the 
Laird of Glenbervie, Viscount Arbuthnott, Mr 
Burnett of Leys and many others. In connec- 
tion with the collection of the interest on these one 
is struck by the immense contrast between the 
facilities for carrying on business between then and 
now. Letters had to be written asking when it 
would be convenient to come and transact the 
business, whilst the journey, even for a compara- 
tively short distance, must have been a wearisome 
and fatiguing one. Advantage seems to have been 
token by the minister and others who may have at- 
tended the synodical meetings of transacting any 
little piece of kirkburiness which required to bedone. 

It does not appear that the Glenbervie elders were 
very ready to dispose of paupers' effects after their 
decease, although this was done in other parishes. 
There is only one entry relative to this, and it shows 
that a " pock " was sold, bringing in the handsome 
sum of fivepence certainly a most unexpected pro- 
ceeding, considering the smallness of the return 
from the sale. Probably instead of being sold they 
were distributed in kind, thus avoiding a sale where 
the goods and chattels to be disposed of were of little 
account. The consideration of these old Church times 
may suggest to us a few pertinent reflections. The 
contrast between the past and the present ecclesias- 
tical life in Scotland, indeed, is very marked. In 
the past the Church constituted herself the guardian 
of the poor and the afflicted. She was a kind 
mother ever ready and eager to help her children. 
She interested herself not only in their future but 
also their earthly welfare. Led by men of strong 
common sense and practical ability, they learned to 
trust in her. They strove ever to exhibit to the 
world a picture of that charity and kindliness of 
heart which prompted them to many gracious and 


kindly deed. Inspired by a glorious past, they 
strove to uphold the great traditions handed down 
to them, and to pass on in undirninshed splendour 
the grand heritage left them from their fathers. 
Are we of the present day fully conscious of that 
greatness left in our charge ? In the past the fiat 
of the Church was respected by high and low, rich 
and poor. Has she the same power to-day. We 
sometimes hear it asserted that the Church (we use 
the word in its widest sense) has lost and is losing 
her hold on the people. We do not believe it. On 
the contrary we believe that she has and will retain 
that hold so long as she is faithful to her trust and 
true to herself. True, she does not exert her in- 
fluence in the way she did of old. But she does it 
still through many more channels than she pos- 
seseed then. Was there ever a time when Christian 
enterprise of all kinds was so vigorous ? 
At what period have Christianising and human- 
ising agencies been more active ? When has there 
been such a wealth of religious literature poured 
from the press as now ? At what period has the 
spirit of Christianity permeated all the departments 
of life and work as now. These are the channels 
through which the Church works to day. But 
more might be done. The miserable divisions 
which desolate Zion and are a scandal and disgrace 
to our common Christianity and Presbyterianism 
sadly hinder the free progress of the cause of 
religion amongst us, and give some cause for the 
Mussulman's remark " Christianity beautiful, 
Christians a farce." To the ordinary mind there 
seems to be no iota of difference between the 
different denominations, and their continued separa- 
tion can but excite pain and wonder in the hearts of all 
who observe it. We impute blame to no one, In 
the past there may have been some reason for this 
action, but in the present it behoves us to seek for 
a "more excellent" way, and to cultivate that 
spirit which, as these few chapters show, these 
old " keepers of the kirk" in Glenbervie displayed, 
viz. to seek that charity which envieth not, and 
thinketh no evil ; and if an outward unity is not 
obtainable let it be over the church at large as it 
certainly has been and is now in Glenbervie, that 
we agree to differ, to live and let live, and to be at 
peace amongst ourselves as becometh those whose 
creed it is to do unto others as we would wish them 
to do unto us. 




The old registers of Glenbervie do not extend any 
further back than the year 1721. In the custody of 
the Registrar-General there is only one volume. In 
it the birth entries extend from 1721 to 1819. The 
first three pages of entries (1721-1748) are very ir- 
regular with respect to dates ; and entries many 
years out of order of time are frequent throughout 
the record. Mothers' names are not recorded till 
1812, and often omitted till 1817. In the " Con- 
tracts" or Marriage Book there is a blank from 
April 1747 till October 1749 and from July 1757 till 
November 1705. There are only two entries 
between the years 1775 and 1779, and a blank from 
1788 to 1793. There is no record of deaths except eight 
entries relating to paupers between 1727 and 1752. 

The Register of Discipline and Accounts from 
January 1723 onwards, is also extant, but it also is 

It is supposed that the registers previous to those 
now extant had been destroyed about the 
year 1715 the time of the first Jacobite 
rising. Possibly they may have been stowed 
away in some hidden corner and been forgotten. 
There is a significant blank also in the entries re- 
lating to the years 1745 and 1746, the first entry 
after that being dated March 15th, 1747. 

It is a pity that these old Registers have been lost 
sight of. They were the only records of the parish 
life and parish work in the olden time, and in Glen- 
bervie we feel sure that there was then a typical 
parish. Not only in the widely different circum- 
stances of the parish, then and now, would they 
have afforded us interesting and instructive reading, 
but also have given us a glimpse of the social 
customs, the Kirk's methods and men, the prevail- 
ing thought and action in the past, and afforded, 
moreover, a striking contrast to the life and work of 
the present day. What remains to us will, in some 
degree, serve to bring out these particulars and for 
convenience we may divide the extracts that follow 
into those relating, (1), to Discipline, (2), Sabbath 
breaking, (3), Eldership, (4), Accounts, (5) Miscel- 

(1), Discipline : To judge from the entries in the 
registers one would imagine the principal function 


of the Kirk Session of Glenbervie to have been the 
exerc ; se of 


on moral delinquents. The elders, as would appear 
from the statements in some of the entries, con- 
stituted themselves the sentinels, keeping watch 
over the morals of the parish, and reporting to the 
" session properly met and constitute" any breach 
of the church's laws or fama that reached their 
ears. Thereupon the party or parties concerned 
were duly summoned by the kirk officers to 
"compear" at the next meeting of Session to 
answer to the charge laid to them. In many cases 
some, perhaps stronger minded or self-willed 
individuals, required two or even three visits from 
the kirk functionary before they consented to 
appear, and even then some were so bold as to give 
no satisfaction to these ecclesiastical inquisitors, 
and accordingly were handed over to the Presbytery 
" to be dealt with as they shall see fit." 

But the Presbytery, perhaps with the conviction 
that the Session were better judges of the whole 
circumstances than they could be, very often 
referred the case back again to the local tribunal. 
A confession or conviction on evidence invariably 
followed this procedure, and the "party" haviugpaid 
his penalty, made his " appearances on ye stool 
in sackcloth," and having been " publicly rebuked" 
was duly "absolved" and restored to church 
membership and privileges. 

The usual penalty paid to the Kirk Session was 
8 Scots, but from entries here and there it would 
appear that the Gleubervie elders then were men of 
good common sense and discrimination who could 
temper justice with mercy, as the following extract 
will show : " 4th December, 1726, A. B. and J. W. 
appeared on the pillar according to order, and were 
absolved. The Session, considering the necessitous 
circumstances of the said persons, took only three 
pounds from them as their penalty." 

Not only, it would seem, did they concern them- 
selves with a 


within their own borders, but also with any 
" subjects" who came with complaints from the 
neighbouring parishes. On August 1st, 1747, the 
Session of Glenbervie had under their consideration 
the "confession" of Elizabeth Cook, a strolling 

beggar, sent from the Session of St Cyrus. They 
duly considered the same, and being evidently 
determined to mete out even-handed justice to the 
"stranger within their gates" however 
mean or poor, " desired the witnesses 
ehe adduced to be summoned against 
the following Sabbath." It was set forth by 
her that she had been badly treated by " John 
Fulsan, servitoi to the laird of Gleubervie," and as 
\vitnesses she cited Alexander Brebner, Elizabeth 
Watson, and W. Walker. But Sir William Nicol- 
son was jealous of the reputation of his servants 
pnd" would not allow his servants to coma over 
so publicly to ye Session." The Session on hear- 
ing this, turned themselves for the nonce into a 
Circuit Court, and sat in judgment on Jchn at the 
mansion-house. The witnesses on oath swore that 
" they never saw John Pulsau do any such thing 
as his accusers alleged, but heard her say that she 
would be revenged upon the said John Pulsau for 
caitMg water about her.' 1 ' 1 

Another case of discipline which, to judge from 
the long account given of the proceedings in con- 
nection with it, must have created some little 
excitement in the parish is recorded in the year 
1762. A.fama had been noised abroad regarding 
one M. T.j and this report being " very flagrant" 
in the parish she was ordered to attend a " Com- 
mittee of Session on Monday next, by two o'clock 
in the afternoon." But she not appearing, the 
machinery of the Kirk Session was set in motion to 
secure evidence regarding the suspected one. 
Father, mother, brother, and sister of the accueed 
appeared but all denied any knowledge of her, each 
declaring and substantiating the other that " she 
had made an elopement from this place upon 
Wednesday last." The Session and its Moderator 
brought into play that judgment and discrimina- 
tion which seems to have characterised them, 
and, in regard to their declarations "doubting of the 
veracity thereof as also that of a letter" received 
from the accused, adjourned the diet to the fol- 
lowing week when the witnesses were all to be 
examined upon oath. But in spite of all these 
formalities no satisfaction could be got from her or 
her friends, and the following deliverance was pro- 
nounced on her case: 

" The Session, having considered the above con- 
fession, wi*h the impudence and audaciousness of 


her answers, conclude that she is not genuine in her 
confession, and therefore refers her to the Presby- 
tery." But the Presbytery seemingly thought it 
would be as hopeless a task for them as it was for 
the Session to extract the true particulars of her 
guilt, and accordingly ordered the Moderator " to 
read the cause of M. T. in Drumlithie, over the 
pulpit and lay her aside as she was altogether 

During the first half of the Eighteenth Century 
persons under church censure made their appear- 
ance " on ye stool in sackcloth," but as will appear 
from an extract in 1762 a change in this 
respect was made. "The Session agreed, as 
they had not a sackcloth gown, the garb 
in which such delinquents as J. S. are 
wont to make their appearances before the congre- 
gation that the said J.S. should make his first ap- 
pearance on the stool next Lord's Day in a linting 
sheet. J.S. being called compeared and being in- 
formed in what manner he was to make his appear- 
ance before the congregation was suitably exhorted 
to repentance." 

Although the case of M.T., quoted above, shows 
that the Session had sometimes ' ' kittle cattle ' ' to 
deal with, yet there were others brought before them 
who exhibited a seemingly sincere outward 
repentance, and whose nature was more 
pliable and open ' to the persuasive words, of 
the moderator of the Session. One J. "W. 
'who was forced to confront the ecclesiastical superiors 
of the parish, " faintly denied his guilt, but being 
dealt with to be ingenuous ; the danger of denying 
the guilt, and the fatal consequence that might at- 
'tend it, together with the dreadful effects of the 
divine vengeance he thereby must needs incur, by 
adding perjury to adultery, being clearly pointed 
out, he then with tears, confessed his guilt," and 
being siu'tably exhorted to repcntencc was referred 
to the Presbytery, which then usually met at Bervie. 

That part of the punishment meted out to moral 
wrong-doers, which enforced their 


in full view of the congregation, seems in Glenbervie 
at least, to have carried with it a sense of shame 
and reproach. It was the exception, however, for 
any one to escape, either this, or the inflction of the 
eight pounds Scots paid as a fine. 

But as an extract dated Jnly 8th 17G4 will show, 
there was one conscience-striken member of the 
congregation so overcome by a sense of shame for 
his guilt that he requested the "indulgence of 
sitting in his father's seat when making appear- 
ance." The Session duly considered the penitent's 
petition and granted the prayer of it, but the 
special favour thus granted was only given on con- 
dition that a double penalty be handed over to the 
funds of the church treasurer. 

Thus we see that whilst the keepers of the kirk 
could, as occasion required in necessitous cases, 
remit part or all of the penalty exacted, they had 
also a shrewd and business-like capacity for 
permitting no breach of the kirk's regulations, 
except it was for the good of their funds. 

Many more extracts relating to the practice of 
the kirk might have been given, but they possess 
no special feature of interest. The remarks made 
on the cases reported in the registers varied indeed 
very little, although in many there is a scrupulous 
and somewhat forbidding amount of detail which 
is plainly suggestive of a miserable half hour for the 
culprits arraigned at the ecclesiastical bar. In this 
as in other respects the practice of the church has 
changed. She still, it is true, carries out her 
discipline, but no public appearance is demanded 
and no penalty enforced. 

(2.) Sabbath Breaking : The question is often 
asked now-a-days " Are we sufficiently strict iu our 
observance of the Sabbath" ? Now and again our 
Presbyteries, Synods, and Assemblies are exercised 
over their reports on Religion and Morals, and the 
question of the due 

Certainly the views on this and similar questions 
have considerably widened during the last half 
century, and to-day things arc done on the Sabbath 
day which the church takes no special notice of 
but which would hare shocked the feelings and 
prejudices of the Kirk a century ago, and brought 
down upon the unfortunate Sabbath breaker an 
inquisitorial examination and censure at the hands 
of the stalwart champions of the Kirk and her laws. 
In this, as in other respects, the truth would seem 
to lie in the golden mean. The church in olden 
times perhaps was too strict in her ideas of Sabbath 
ktvping, and respected the letter more than the 
spirit, but may it not be that we are going to the 


opposite extreme, and violating both the spirit and 
the letter ? In Glenbervie at any rate, a due 
observance of the Sabbath was rigidly demanded. 
The entries relating to Sabbath breaking are not 
many, but they are significant. 

The Church has no power now to deal with cases 
of drunkenness, except through her precept and 
example, but the Kirk Session of the parish in 1724 
not only looked upon it as a "sin" but also 
administered reproof "for the forgetfuluess of any 
one in this respect, as the following extract will show : 
"April 7th, the Session met and constitute by prayer, 
D. M. in Jacksbank, compierd and acknowledged 
his sin in being guilty of drunkenness on ye Lord's 
day, and was appointed to compier before ye con- 
gregation next Sabbath to be publickly rebuked for 
ye same." 

But less heinous offences than drunkenness came 
under the church's censure. The Shorter Catechism 
lays it down that only works of " necessity and 
mercy " are to be engaged in on the Sabbath, and 
apparently the Kirk-Session of Glenbervie had con- 
sidered the shearing of a few handfuls of grass on 
the Sabbath, to be none of these. 

At the meeting of the Session on 13th July, 1760, 

one of the elders reported that " it was current in 

the parish that a servant of James Scott in Tan- 

\ / nachy, or other of their members was guilty of 

Sabbath breaking by 


upon the sixth instant. ' ' A week had only elapsed be - 
forethe Sabbath breaker was thus brought to book for 
his alleged misdeeds, and ordered to appear before the 
Session. That this meeting was considered of more 
than ordinary importance is attested by the fact 
that the full sederunt is mentioned in the record, 
which was not usually done. The evidence adduced 
is so full and so curiously put, that we here give the 
record of one of the witnesses entire. 

" Compeared Alexr. Walker, jun., in Buckie's 
Mill according to a citation given him by order of 
the Session, an unmarried man aged thirty years 
and upwards, being purged of envy, malice, and 
corruption, depones that upon the Sabbath's night, 
the sixth instant, he saw John Hoe, servt to 
James Scott in Tannachy, taking up a bundle of 
grass upon a balk in the Bank of Tannachy and 
going a little up the said balk and laid it down, 
taking up more grass, and took it up again, and 


went away with it towards his master's house so far 
as he could decern, and that he did not see him 
shearing any grass. The deponent being interro- 
gate what time of the night it was, answered that 
he could not fix upon an hour, but according to his 
knowledge it was before the ticelfth hour said night. 
Causa scieiitifp patet and this is truth as the Deponent 
shall answer to God. sic subscribitur" 

Other two witnesses appeared and gave similar 
evidence, whilst John Eoe, the Sabbath-breaking 
servant, also affirmed that he did shear the grass, 
and did carry home the said grass in a birn when 
shorn, for the use of his master's horses, and that 
he was ardered by the said James Scott to go and 
shear the grass in the time he was taking his supper, 
in presence of James Scot's wife, George Napier, 
Maigaret Bennet, and Magdalen Scott, and that 
after shearing and bringing home the grass he im- 
mediately went to his bed." 

The Session sat in solemn judgment on thedeposi- 
tions, but realisuig that the honour of the Kirk and 
one of its " pillars " was at stake, (for the said James 
Scott was one of the elders) thought an adjournment 
to give time for reflection would be advisable, and 
accordingly agreed to meet again at the Kirk the 
following " Saturday by six o'clock in the morning" 
A division of opinion there seems to have been on the 
question, but it was agreed by a " majority of votes 
that James Scott of Tannpchy was not guilty of 
irilfttl breach of Sabbath, and thought he should be 
continued in his office." 

Another form of 


which was taken notice of in Glenbervie was th? 
talk that went on round the Kirk door every Sunday 
morning on subjects connected with their worldly 

It is quite a familar circumstance for many in the 
rural congregations yet to assemble some time be- 
fore service, and on such occasions the talk is not 
wholly given up to religious discussions. The 
weather, the state of the crops, or the latest bit of 
parish gossip serves as subject of interesting, if 
not always useful, talk. On such occasions it has 
even been hinted that a good bargain has been al- 
most if not wholly completed. The opportunities 
of meeting each other, more than a century ago, 
were very limited ; and seemingly the good people 
of Glenbervie had then selected " the assembling of 

themselves together," as a convenient time for the 
discussion of their worldly affairs, and perhaps in 
the ardour of their talk they had forgot the respect 
due to the Lord's day, and thus called for the 
intervention of the keepers of the Kirk. At any 
rate the Session thought that the reading of the 
word would be more profitable, and ' ' resolved 
nomine coiitradiccnte to buy a Bible that the precentor 
might read to the congregation before sermon on 
the Lord's Day, in order to divert the people from 
discoursing about their secular employments'." 

It may not be generally known that the reason 
for the ringing of the bell an hour before service, 
as is yet quite common in many places, was to 
summon the worldly-minded worshippers to the 
reading mentioned above, the earlier bell in the 
morning, also in use yet, being intended to rouse 
them from their slumbers. 

Another custom in the parish which came under 
the notice of the Session at this time was connected 


The favourite day for the ceremony seems to have 
been Saturday or Sunday, and on the Sunday there 
was a kirking not at the church only, but also in 
the alehouses, where we suppose the health of the 
newly - wedded pair would be duly given and 

The Kirk-Session did not lay down any seecial 
prohibition of this, but resolved (July 1763) " to 
discountenance marryings on Saturday and kirk- 
ings in alehouses on Sundays for the future, as 
much as lay in their power." 

This mild request and protest by the Session 
seems to have been somewhat disregarded, for in 
November 1765, two years later, "the Session 
having taken under their consideration the tendency 
that marriages on the Lord's Day had to the 
prophanation of said day. enacted that no 
marriages for the future should be solemnised upon 
the Lord's Day in this parish, and if any person 
should insist upon having marriage said day, they 
would oblige themselves to be betwixt the minister 
and all danger for refusing to marry any person on 
eaid day." 

In connection with this subject of Sabbath 
keeping it is interesting to note that at the Manse 
of Glenbervie there is an open space (immediately 
to the west of it, and adjoining the public right-of- 


way from the Mause to the mill) which goes by the 
name of 


There can be no doubt that this marks the spot 
where on Sundays and other days the people were 
wont to assemble and practise their feats of archery 
and other sports in the olden days. 

(4) Disbursements We have already seen what 
the Sessions iu olden times did with the very 
considerable 1 funds at their command. The care of 
the poor and the promotion of education were two 
main features of their work. But these by no . 
means exhausted the spending resoiu'ces of these 
old parish guardians. Their expenditure was spread 
over almost every conceivable deserving object in 
the parish . They provided for the living as well as 
for the dead ; the widow and the orphan did not 
appeal to them in vain ; the vagrant, the 
supplicant, and the stranger did not pass by their 
door unprovided for. p^ud yet, withal, they were 
men, as we have seen, of sound judgment, clear 
discrimination, and sensible actions, who were not 
easily imposed upon, and who watched with a 
jealous eye over the interests committed to their 

We feel sure from our study of the old Glen- 
bervie records that the following sentence spoken 
of these kirkmen in general applied with equal 
force to those we have been speaking of. '* Not 
harsh and hard-hearted men were these old 
ministers and elders whose doings we have been 
criticising, but men of as true kindliness, as burn- 
ing a /.eal for God, and as ripe Christian under- 
standing as the best of ourselves. All honour to 
their names, and may their works fellow them." 

The following extracts taken from the account 
books of the parish will perhaps be of interest to 
many, as showing the many and varied applications 
of the Glenbervie parish kirk funds. Those given 
were disbursed between 1723 and 1772, and may be 
taken as typical of many more that might be 

To a Stranger, G 

To the Burse (Bursar) 400 

This was the Bursar maintained by the Presby- 
tery, each congregation, as already mentioned, 
paying a proportional share. 
To Cups at the Sacraineiit, G 


From the frequent entries of the above it is ap- 
parent that Glenbervie had no communion vessels, 
and consequently the loan of these had to be got 
from the neighbouring parish of Fordoun. Six 
shillings (Scots) is the price stated, but several years 
later, about the third quarter of the eighteenth 
century, two shillings is the price paid for the loan 
of them. In 1781 the Session agreed to purchase 
plates for the communion breads and a basin for 
the baptisms communion cups were also got in 
1780. The law regarding the sacrament 
of baptism in the church is that it 
should be performed in the public place 
of worship, and the fact that a bason was got 
presumably implies that it was carried out publicly 
in Glenbervie, whenever it was possible to do so. 
To James Gumming for to buy shirts, . . 1 16 

To a coffin to J. W., 12 

The very next entry to the above, relating to the 
purchase of a coffin puts the price at 2. The 
price of a coffin and winding sheet supplied by the 
Kirk was 3 5s. 
To Adam Greig for windows, . . . . . . 18 

To the Clerk's Fee, 6 13 4 

To another poor person, . . . . . . 070 

The last two are consecutive entries, and we cannot 
but think that the Session -Clerk in recording them 
must have had a spark of humour in his composition, 
or perhaps wanted to convey a quiet hint to the 
Session that an increase of salary for his services as 
clerk would be acceptable. 
Charge arrestment of James Craig's com to 

William Black, 

To shoes of two children to J. H., . . . . 1 
To thatch to Margt. Martiue's house, . . 

To vagrant beggars, .. .. .. .. 0130 

The entries relative to "beggars" specify them 
as "vagrant," common, "staff," or "cripple." 
Given to the Presbytery for propagating 

human knowledge, . . .590 

To a precept, . . . . 12 

For the selatter, . . . . .0120 

To J. W's. dead cloath , . .100 

To A. G's. shoes, . . . 1 4 '0 

To a supplicant, 8 10 

To John Brniid for shoos mending, . . . 080 
To Hubert Clark for making a poor man's 

grave, .. .. 068 

To Suasion- Clerk for making up the Session 

Book, 368 


FortheBell, 60 10 6 

To the Poor at the Sacrament, .. .. 14 3 
To Hawkhill for building a house to Mar- 
garet Martin, the house his own, . . 200 
To James Ritehie, a fool boy in Cotbank, . . 30 
To ye foundling from ye loth of February, 

to ye 25th of May 660 

Eodcm die to buy cloaks to ye foundling, . . 220 
To buy shirts and shoes to ye foundling, . . 18 
To James Ritchie to mend his cloaths, . . 13 4 
To a cripple woman in great distress, . . 140 
To James Burness, Boxmaster, for Disburse- 
ments out of his own pocket, . . . . 5 10 

This is only one of a great many similar, showing 
that James Burness had exercised a large discre- 
tion as to granting occasional relief without the 
express sanction of the session 

To a blasted woman, 12 

To an object, 040 

To an indigent gentlewoman, 12 

To a dumb man, 040 

To buy a Bible to David Peel, . . . . 140 
To a woman cut of a cancer in ye Parish of 

Fordoun, I 12 

To a man in ye Parish of Fordoun whoso 

eye was cut of a cataract, . . . . 020 
To help up with a Bridge in ye Parish of 

Benholm, 100 

For a sand glass, . . . . . . . . 060 

The mention of the sand glass recalls to one's 
mind the time when preachers were very literally 
described as "painful" perhaps in the modern 
sense it was so for both preacher and hearer. One 
or two .turns of the sand glass would induce a 
soporific tendency in the hearers, but we have no 
mention of " the awakening rod " having been 
brought into requisition in Glenbervie as it is said 
to have been elsewhere. 

To buy a Session Book, 300 

To ye up-pulling of a bridge over ye water 

ofCowie 300 

To James Burness for being precentor, .. 11 1J 
To a bridge in Glenesk in ye Parish of 

Lochlee, 060 

The obligations of the Kirk Session in those days 
were seemingly not confined to the building or 
pulling-up of bridges in their own county. Per- 
haps some of the hill roads were connected with 
this bridge, and so the Session had felt called 
upon to assist in raising it. 


The following entries have reference to a new 
mortcloth which was got in 1757. 
To William Baird for dressing 8| yards of 

velvet and a fringe, 040 

To 6 dropes black silk at 2d per drop, and 3 

white do., 1 9 

To 8| yards of cotton velvet for a mortcloth, 

10s per yard, . . . . . . . . 476 

To 6 yards white Persian at 2s 3d per yard, 13 6 
To 5f yards shalloon at Is Sd per yard, . . 097 
To \ yard buckram, . . . . . . . . 005 

To James Jolly, Taylor in Drumlithy, for 

making the mortcloth, . . . . . . 170 

Though of no outstanding interest these entries 
are useful as showing \is the price of materials 
To a fund to be raised for encouraging 

students to preach ( ':) , . . . , . . 7 4f 
To Robert Glegg, smith in Drumlithie, for 

the poor, 026 

This shows us that there were in Glenbervie as in 
the neighbouring parishes "licensed" beggars. 
These licenses or badges were granted to poor 
people, and this allowed them to beg with impunity. 
One of the Glenbervie badges is now in the posse- 
sion of Mr John Milne, Auchinblae, an 
intelligent and enthusiastic collector of an- 
tiques. This system had even legal sanction. 
An act of 1672 directed Kirk Sessions 
" to condescend on such as. through age and in- 
firmity, are not able to work, and appoint them 
places wherein to abide, that they may be supplied 
by the contributions at the parish kirk, and gif the 
same be not sufficient to entertain them, that they 
give them a badge or ticket to ask alms at the 
dwelling houses of the inhabitants of their own 
paroch only, without the bounds whereof they are 
not to beg." These badges, besides giving licence, 
were, in the emphatic words of the olden days, a 
means of " discovering them from strangers and 
idle vagabonds." 
To transporting an object to Stonehaven, . . 1 

To i ( Dewing the old tokens, 
To twenty-one dozen new ones, 
By the Postage of a Letter, 

2 1 

By the Balance of a Church Laver, 
By Appreciating the Wood in Kirkyaird, 020 

By I'owclrr lor Kiving Stones for Do., .. 008 
By ( rying Konp of the Timber (presumably 
the Wood of the Kirkyard mentioned 
ubove), .. ..008 


By J. C. in Newbigging lent him to Buy a 
Cow, which Cow is the Session's pro- 
perty, but continued with J. C. for 
some time for the support of his family, 
he being a poor man, . . . . ..200 

By Tipets and Mutches to Orphan's Nurse, 016 
By a dorment to the Loft,, . . . . ..040 

By Twelve Yards of Linen, being Cloth for 

the Communion Table, 1 8 1H 

This gives us almost 2s 6d as the price of a yard of 
linen one hundred and twenty years ago. 

MiscellamoHs Extracts (1) Seat rents : It was 
the custom long ago in Glenbervie to let the 

These went then by the expressive name of 
" rooms." Whether this was legal or not, it is for 
those " learned in the law " to say, but at any rate 
the kirk was partitioned off by distinctive names 
corresponding, as was and is the custom, to the 
different districts of the parish. Indeed, there are 
extracts which bear out that there was on the part 
of many of the parishioners a keen desire to obtain 
a particular seat, or seats, but the Session most 
rigidly demanded " evidences " before they 
admitted the claim. 

In response to an invitation from the pulpit to 
lay claim to " Dasks " in the kirk, James Lawrence 
in Easttowu, and Eobert Spark in Bjoombaiik, 
appeared, and because they had " acts of session " 
in their favour, they were allowed seats in the kirk 
" without payment." 

The seat rents varied with the position of the seat 
in the kirk. " The Session lays on half a merk 
Scotts to be pay'd for each room in ye Dasks in ye 
body of ye church, except John Greig's which is 
only a groat per room. Likeways on ye loft -4 shills 
Scots for each room in ye breasts of it, and 2 shills 
Scots, for each room over ye whole of ye rest of it." 

Evidently it had never occurred to the Session of 
old to distinguish a seat by a number, as the des- 
criptions of them in the records laboured and 
wonderfully minute, still show. 

Here are a few. 

' Robert Roe in Kiumonth, Dr. for a room in the 
Bigg Seat underlffie'Loft with its back to the wall " ; 
" Long Dask, alias Couden's Dask, containing 5 
persons"; "Crooked Dask, including yt., under ye 
stair, containing 7 persons." 

There were in Gleubervie, as in most parish kirks, 
a number of seats exprebsly set aside for the poor, 


and for right to these as to others, proof had to be 
forthcoming as the following extract shows. " If 
any person laid claim to any of ye dasks, commonly 
called ye poors' Dasks, and yt. stand in the body of 
ye church to produce their evidences before ye 
Session by ten of ye clock before noon on Saturday 

(2) Scandals Human nature, it has been truly 
said, is the same in all ages. The man who lived 
hundreds of years ago is as the man who lives to-day. 
He had the same virtues and the same vices, the 
same love and the same hatred, the same failings 
and weaknesses which characterise human nature 
to-day. The 


was busy in the olden time as now. The outward 
expression or manifestation was perhaps different, 
but the essence of the spirit that prompted it then 
was the same as now. To-day redress for slander 
can be got through the legal tribunals of the land, 
but in the olden time the Church undertook to deal 
with the slanderer and the scandal -monger, as the 
following resolution of Glenbervie Kirk- Session of 
the year 1723 will show. 

" The Session having met and constitute enacted 
that every one who raised a scandal should either 
pledge four pounds Scotts, in ye hands of their 
Boxmaster, or else -find sufficient security therefor 
either by Bill, Bond or Cautionry, ay, and until 
they should prove ye scandal and then upon proba- 
tion the scandalized person should incur ye said 
mulct besides being lyable to Church censure, and 
satisfaction to ye injured. But in case of not pro- 
bation the scandalizer should forfeit ye said sum, 
hesides satisfaction to ye scandalized and Church 
censure, according as ye Session should think most 

The Session thus constituted itself a final Court 
of Appeal, but the sentence to which scandalizers 
were liable seems to have acted as an effective de- 
terrent for no record can be afterwards found of 
any who were hauled before the local ecclesiastical 
judges for unjustly raising a fama regarding their 

In the same year the session agreed with John 
Edward, square wright, for the value of eleven 
pounds Scotts, " to build a pillory and a dask 
before Couden's dask in ye east end of ye Church 


before ye crooked dask under Glenbervie's loft, the 
timber and nails being his own."- 

In 1758, in accordance with a resolution of the 
Justices of the Peace for the county with respect to 
the poor, the session proceeded to draw up a list of 
those in receipt of relief within the parish, and 
these were divided into four classes (1) of infants 
having parents, eleven ; (2) of bedridden necessitous 
poor, eleven ; (3) of poor able to assist in their 
maintenance, fifteen ; (4) badge beggars. 

In 1761 the Session enacted that the tokens are 
to be distributed for the future according to the 
Examining Roll, and that no person is to be 
admitted to the tables unexamined " unless they 
can give a rellavent reason for their non-attend- 
ance." The course of examination was ordered to 
begin " precisely about Martinmas and to continue 
for six weeks each year, so that every person may 
have an opportunity of attending one or other of 
the diets." 

The Kirk of Glenbervie in the eighteenth century 
was considered too small for the number of wor- 
shippers, and at length in 1798 an enlargement 
was resolved upon. This was carried out, but 
another defect at this time was also repaired, viz., 


It was matter of common talk over the parish that 
the number was too few to effectively look after the 
interests of the poor, and to perform all other 
duties incidental to the eldership. Accordingly an 
election of several approved men was made, and 
these very soon made their influence felt in a radical 
change in the matter of discipline. Henceforth it 
was enacted that public rebuke for scandal should be 
abolished as the following will show. "The Session 
after reasoning upon the matter, agreed that the 
two persons " (previously mentioned) "as well as all 
fornicators in time coming should be reprimanded 
privately, and in their presence only, and if they 
so choose, absolved, upon paying one pouiid stg. , for 
the benefit of the poor, and ordered their clerk to 
enter said resolution in the minutes accordingly." 




Scotland has reason to be proud of her educa- 
tional system. For more than two centuries, 
thanks to the wisdom and fore -sight of Knox and 


she has enjoyed a system of education at once the 
admiration and envy of the world. The Reformers 
laid great store on education. And the educa- 
tional zeal of the early Reformers was not hard to 
understand. They had overthrown a Church 
which, in their estimation, owed its. existence and 
continuance to ignorance, and hence nothing was 
so helpful to the advancement of their cause as 
general education and enlightenment of the masses. 

In the first Book of Discipline it is accordingly 
asserted by Kuox and his colleagues that in every 
considerable parish there should be a school and a 
schoolmaster fit to teach the grammar and the 
Latin tongue, and that in small parishes the 
minister or reader should take care that the young 
" be instructed in the first rudiments, especially in 
the catechisme, as we have it now translated in the 
Booke of the Common Order." 

The history of 


may be divided roughly into three periods, and for 
the better understanding of the remarks on the 
schools and schoolmasters of Glenbervie, we shall, 
as we proceed, make some general remarks on the 
characteristics of each period. 

The first period lasted from 1560 to 1633, that is 
from the Reformation to almost the middle of the 
17th century ; the second from 1633 to 1872 when 
the Compulsory Education Act came into force ; and 
the third from that period onwards to the present 

During the first of these periods the control of 
education was entirely in the hands of the church, 
and consequently may be called the 


All provision for the maintenance of schools and 
schoolmasters was made by the Church through her 
Synods, Presbyteries, and Kirk Sessions. During 
the second period the heritors of the different 

Irishes were conjoined with the ministers in the 
the oversight of the educational system. The 


State thus stepped in, and was associated with the 
Church in the maintenance and establishment of 
schools for the young. This may be called the 


The third period, in which we at present are, is 
remarkable for the assumption by the State of the 
duties of providing and maintaining for the educa- 
tional needs of the country and consequently may 
be called the 


During the first or Church period, there is little 
to be learned regarding the educational history of 
Glenbervie. It is just possible that the people of 
the parish were indebted to their ministers for 
whatever instruction they got. The Kirk Session 
Records do not extend so far back as that time, but 
from Scott's Fasti we learn that the parish was 
supplied in 1567 with one "John Auchinleck 

Now, in those days it was no uncommon thing 
for a minister or reader to conjoin with his sacred 
office, that of schoolmaster. And from the minis- 
ter's point of view this was no doubt a wise ar- 
rangement, for the salary attached to the reader's 
office in those days was not large. Consequently he 
could increase his stipend by instructing the young. 
Three years after Auchinleck's settlement in Glen- 
bervie his place was taken by John Christesoun, 
who came from Fetteresso, and had also charge of 
Dunnottar. His stipend from Glenbervie was 8 
10s 4d, along with the Kirk lands. He continued 
at Glenbervie till 1580. 

Whetherthis assumption bo true or not in the case 
of Glenbervie, there is historical evidence that in 
other parts of the country, the church acting on the 
instructions of her Assembly, was prepared to en- 
quire into the qualifications of her readers, and 
hence visitations of parishes were from time to time 
made by ecclesiastical appointment. 

Besides, at this time, the Church had petitioned 
the Sovereign to be allowed to superintend the 
schools, so that none might be allowed as in- 
structors of youth, except such as were found by 
the Kirk to be sound and able in doctrine. 

At that time also, as we learn from the Second 
Book of Discipline, the term " Clergy" included 
not only ministers, but " schuile-maisters also, 
quhilk aucht and may be weill sustenit of the same 

,- . 78 

glides " that is the teinds, where these could be got 

The school in those days was situated probably at 
Druralithie, where it is to-day. One would expect 
that it would have been nearer the kirk, as was the 
custom in old times. The phrase the " school 
at the kirk " occurs often in kirk-session and 
presbytery records, and was, no doubt, intended to 
define the locality of a school proposed to be built. 

The phrase is thus explained by Dr Edgar in his 
valuable book on the Kirk: "It means that the 
school is not to be built in some outlying district of 
the parish, or in some upstart village making pre- 
tension to be considei-ed the head centre of the 
parish, but at the old constitutional place of con- 
vention, where onSunday alltheparishionersmeetfor 
instruction in doctrine, and on week days for being 
heckled on the question book." 

And that the minister and heritors of Glenbervie 
thought that it ought to be at the Kirk will appear 
from the following extract regarding one of those 
ecclesiastical visitations already referred to. 

The Kirk of Glenbervie was visited by " my 
Lord Archbishop of St Andrews and remanent 
members thereof" on June 1, 1681, the Rev. 
Robert Irvine being minister. 

" Being asked concerning their schoolmaster 
answered that they had one who had a competent 
maintenance ; and were satisfied with his carriage 
and attendance on his calling, and that they were 
about to bring the school from Itrumlithic to the Kirk." 
The schoolmaster at this time was one 


and according to an account given was said to 
" acquiesce in present church government." The 
removal of the school from the village does not 
appear to have been carried out, although in the 
year 1723, and the following year, there occurs the 
phrase ' echoolmaster at Glenbervie," regarding 
two schoolmasters who were each appointed Session 

Who he was or how long he remained school- 
master at Glenbervie, we have now no means of 
knowing, but forty years later we come upon the 
appointment of Mr John Sime, schoolmaster at 
Glenbervie, as Session Clerk. For this office his 
salary as appears from the list of disbursements 
was 3 6s 8d, although we cannot give anything 
but a mere conjecture as to his stipend as school- 
master. Evidently the duties of the kirk officer 


were held in higher estimation by the Kirk Session 
than those of Session Clerk, for we find that the 
former received t iu addition to the fees commonly 
given at that time to the officer either in money 
or kind. 

In 1667 the various Presbyteries were required to 
send up to the Archbishop of St Andrews the names 
of the various schoolmasters under their jurisdiction 
for his license to teach. 

Previous to 1696 the salary of the schoolmaster 
was commonly provided for by the kirk, but 
subsequent to that it was ordained that the 
" heritors in every parish meet and settle and 
modify a salary to a schoolmaster which shall not be 
less than one hundred merks, norabovetwo hundred." 
Assuming the stipend to have been a fair average 
between these two extremes, he would have received 
from the heritors about 8 sterling. Of course 
there were the fees and other " casualties which 
formerly belonged to the readers and the clerks of 
the Kirk-Session," also to be included in the total 

The next schoolmaster that we find mention of 
was one 


He was appointed Session Clerk on June 12th, 
1725, and continued in these offices till at least the 
year 1730. After him there was Patrick Tod, who, 
as usual, filled the offices of Session Clerk as well as 
teacher, but regarding him nothing else is known. 

Not only did Kirk-Sessions look after the element- 
ary education of their own parish, but they also did 
something in the way of giving the lad of 

the means of reaching the University. 

In 1645 the General Assembly made a law that 
every Presbytery consisting of twelve Kirks should 
provide a bursar every year at the college that 
the bursar should have at least 100 Scots a year 
that the provision for the bursar should be " taken 
forth of the Kirk penalties," and that the sum re- 
quired for his maintainance at college should be 
raised by a proportional stent of the several 
Kirks in the 1'resbytery, according to the 
number of the communicants. "Where a Kirk was 
without spot or blemish, there consequently could 
be nothing for him, if his bursary was to come out 
of the penalties exacted. 


The stent imposed on Glcnbervie was 4 Scots 
per annum, and this sum appears over and over 
again in the list of disbursements, as having been 
paid to " Mr Thomas Ogilvie, Presbytery bursar." 
He was " Chaplain at Glenbervie," and on May 31st, 
1724, was elected Session Clerk, as the following 
extract shows: "The Session met, and after 
prayer Mr Thomas Ogilvie, Chaplain at Glenbervie, 
was chosen Session Clerk, having promised secrecy 
as to everything transacted in ye Session." He 
must have satisfied the Presbytery as to his diligence 
and progress, for during three successive years at 
least, he was the recipient of their bounty. And 
we may assume that the Presbytery of Fordoun 
would loyally carry out the injunctions of the 
General Assembly of 1705, and "appoint a Com- 
mittee of their number, yearly to examine . . . 
. . such within their bounds as go to Colleges 
with an eye to bursaries, and suffer none to proceed 
but such as are very forward, and good proficients, 
and of good behaviour ; and that ministers recom- 
mend none to bursaries but such as are well quali- 

Other two bursars mentioned in the Glenbervie 
Records are a Mr Pyott, and one David Burn. 

In addition to the fixed stipend of the heritors the 
schoolmaster received the school fees. These were 
fixed by the Kirk Session and heritors. But in 
1803 an act was passed by which the fees were to 
be fixed by the minister and heritors from time to 
time, but at intervals of not less than twenty-five 

Towards the end of the Eighteenth Century the 
fees exacted in Glenbervie, were, per quarter, for 
English and writing, Is 6d ; for arithmetic, 2s ; and 
for Latin, 2s 6d. 

These charges certainly appear very moderate, 
and yet we are told on good authority that " Even 
much of these small fees are not paid, so that the 
yearly amount of the fees is commonly much less 
than what one would expect from the number of 
scholars." No doubt there would be some then, as 
now, unable to pay for their children's education, 
and it may be asked were these left untaught. The 
Kirk Session in such cases were accustomed to pay 
for their education, and entries to that effect occur 
in the records of the parish. 

In addition to a salary, the schoolmaster had, as 
was usual, a dwelling-house, and it would appear 

from Sinclair's Statistical Account that "a new 
schoolhoiisc and a dwelling-house for the master " 
had a Ixi ut IT'.K) been built. This one, known as the 
old parish school, was removed at the alteration and 
extension of the present parish school. The number of 
scholars in average attendance then was about 10. The 
teacher had the maximum salary of 200 merks, and 
with the fees and other emoluments amounting to 
over 20 made a total living of over 45, which con- 
trasted favourably with others in the county 
similarly situated. 

Towards the end of the eighteenth century the 
schoolmaster of the parish was the 

He was bom at Laurencekirk in 1769. He studied 
at Marischal College, Aberdeen, where he graduated 
in 1792. He acted as schoolmaster in Glenbervie 
till 1821, when he was ordained as assistant and 
successor to the minister of Garvock. It was not 
till 183G, however, that he entered on the full 
charge of the parish. He lived till 1868, dying on 
the 17th Nov., of that year, in the ninety-ninth 
year of his age. Mr Charles was distinguished for his 
strong attachment to Presbyterian principles, and 
in support of these, published in 1855, 
" The Protestant's Handbook." He was not 
unmindful either of his native parish or 
of the one in which he was so long schoolmaster. 
To the Kirk Session of Laurencekirk he left 50 for 
the education of poor children in the parish, 
and a similar sum to the Kirk Session of Glenbervie 
for a like purpose. This was managed by the 
School Board of Gleubcrvie after the passing of the 
1872 Act, and now again, since all elementary 
education is free, it has reverted into the hands of 
the minister and Kirk- Session, who apply the 
interest of the bequest to the promotion of the 
principles of religion amongst the young people of 
the parish, in accordance with the expressed will of 
the testator. 

Mr Charles was succeeded by 


who was born at Corgebanld in the neighbouring 
parish of Fordoun. ^HIs f other and brother were 
for a long time tenants of that farm. In connection 
with the Ten Years' Conflict which culminated in 
the Disruption his brother David became famous. 
He was educated for the ministry, and became the 


elect of the congregation of Marnoch, who rejected 
the nominee of the patron. Mr Henry of Glen- 
bervie is said to have been a man of gentle 
temperament and unpretending nature. When he 
gave up teaching he returned to his native parish, 
where he spent the remainder of his days. 

Mr Henry's successor was the 


who was chosen as schoolmaster by the heritors in 
1861. Mr Main graduated at Marischal College, 
Abereeen, having been a student under the famous 
Dr Melvin. He was the last of the parochial 
teachers of Glenbervie, and for more than twenty 
years was a faithful and able teacher. Many of his 
pupils have risen to good positions. He occasion- 
ally preached in neighbouring parishes, being a 
licentiate of the Church of Scotland, as many of the 
old parochial teachers of Scotland were. It was 
whilst away officiating thus that he contracted a 
cold which developed into chronic-rheumatism, and 
thus occasioned his retiral from active work. He 
retired in 1882, on a pension granted him by the 
School Board, and now lives in the village of 

The later schoolmasters have been (1) John Rose, 
M.A., (1882-1888) ; (2) George Henderson Kinnear, 

In addition to the parish school, there was a small 
adventure school carried on under a succession of 
teachers at the hamlet of Tannochy. After the 
passing of the Education Act in 1872, another 
school was built by the School Board at Lawgavcn. 
The scholars attending it are drawn from" the upper 
districts of the parisn. The average number in 
attendance is about 40. Teachers since its com- 
mencement : (1) Thomas Mitchell, (2) David 
Jamie, (3) Alexander Duthie, (4) Archibald Wilson, 
(5) Alexander Clark. 

A contrast between the past and present state of 
education may fittingly be drawn here. 

The State Period which dates from 1872 has now 
run for almost a quarter of a century, and many 
educational changes have taken place during that 

For the first few years after the passing of the 
Act the new administrative body the School 
Board in most parishes had to set about getting 
the statutory accommodation for the influx of 


scholars who previously had come and gone to 
school nt their own sweet will, but who now were 
swept into the net of the compulsory officer. In- 
deed, it might truly be said that the sound of the 
instructor's voice could not be heard above the 
noise of the workman's hammer. Buildings con- 
sequently were raised in many cases at great 
expense, and proved worthy temples for the in- 
struction of childhood. What a strange contrast 
was afforded between these and the dingy, dark, and 
often damp hovels into which the children of the parish 
were crowded ! Many of the elementary schools now 
would have been accounted good enough for colleges 
and seminaries of the higher branches of learning. 
The bright, cheery, warm, and well-ventilated 
schoolrooms of the present day have an inspiriting 
effect on both teachers and taught, and this is as it 
should be, considering the vastly different con- 
ditions under which the present-day education is 
carried on. The demands on both teacher and 
taught are greater ; the standard of attainment is 
raised ; the work must be more skilfully and meth- 
odically carried through. Instead of the modicum 
of reading, writing, and arithmetic, which formed 
the staple of the intellectual food of the schools of 
old, we have now a multiplicity of subjects which 
crave the attention of the pupils. 

But with all the boasted advantages of our com- 
pitlsory system, it is not to be denied that it brought 
in its train, many disadvantages which were absent 
from the excellent parcchial system. That the old 
parochial schoolmasters of Scotland did a noble 
work for their country, is not to be denied, but it 
must be remembered that there was an elasticity in 
their system, which left them free to develop the 
bent of the individual child. They were not 
"cribbed, cabined, and confined" by rules and 
regulations, as the code-driven teacher of the 
present dtvy. With the advent of the 
compulsory system came also the vicious and hurt- 
ful method of payment by results on the individual 
passes, which all thinking men now admit to be 
wrong, but which probably suggested itself to the 
mind of its author, Mr Robert Lowe (afterwards 
Lord Sherbrooke), as the most practical method of 
satisfying the- British public that it was getting full 
value for its money. It has, however, been said on 
authority that a higher hand than Mr Lowe's was 
responsible for this one of the most eminent 


statesmen of the century, then a colleague of Mr 

l>ut wiser councils now prevail. The long dreary 
inarch through the uninviting educational wilder- 
ness is nearly at an end, and both teachers and 
taught arc now within reach of the Promised Land, 
which, if it does not yield abundant supplies 
of intellectual milk and honey will, at least, afford 
to the youthful educational pilgrims of the next 
generation a refreshing attraction andinterestdenied 
to their predecessors during the first two decades of 
the compulsory period. 

The contrast in the manner and methods of the 
inspection of schools then and now, is also very 
striking. Prior to the passing of the Education 
Act of 1872, it is well known that nearly all the 
schools in the country were inspected annually by a 
committee of the Presbytery. As long ago as 1595 
Presbyteries were enjoined by the General Assembly 
' to take order for visitation and reformation of 
grammar schooles in touus within their bounds ; 
and to appoint some of their counsell to attend 
carefullie 011 their schooles and to assist the maister 
in discipline." 

This visitation of the parish school was esteemed 
by many ministers an important part of their work, 
and by none more so than the parish ministers of 
Glenbervie during the last hundred years. Though 
it is not to be denied that the inspection by the 
Presbytery was less skilful and thorough than 
under the present system by the inspectors of the 
Education Department, nevertheless they were to 
many a pleasant time, and in the majority of cases 
had a beneficial effect on the character and 
discipline of the school. 

The elderly people amongst us yet recall with 
pride some of the incidents of these red-letter days 
in their scholastic career. It was an event- 
ful day with some. The exhibition of 
intellectual strength finished, the young Goliaths 
would repair to the village green to give proof of 
their physical prowess, and if the pupils of a neigh- 
bouring educational establishment could be met 
with on their march a pitched battle ensued, which 
if it left no serious consequences behind, at least 
supplied the place of the manual and physical 
exercises of the present day instruction. 

But we have changed all that. The Government 
Inspector pays his annual visit, like the spring 


flowers, only to return again next year, and leaving 
the teacher to perform " the daily round, the com- 
moii task," under the supervision of the 
Parish School Board. And it may not 
be long ere their functions will be 
transferred to the recently-formed Parish Councils. 
The old order chaugeth. School Boards will have 
their day and cease to be, and on the whole vrhen 
the history of the School Board system, comes to 
be written, it will be said of them that they did 
their work well, although here and there over 
the land, individual members, especially in the 
early days of the system, succeeded only in expos- 
ing their own ignorance of educational methods 
and administration. 

Amongst the other changes in our educational 
system, free education has also come. There was 
not, as some have maintained, universal free edu- 
cation in the olden time, although the Kirk through 
her Presbyteries and Kirk- Sessions made provision 
for the education of poor children. Teachers 
were obliged by the Act of 1803 "to 
teach such poor children of the parish as shall 
be recommended by the heritors and minis- 
ters at any parochial meeting." Thus, so far as she 
was able, did the Kirk long ago make education 
compulsory, and free to the poor. 

In education, as in many other departments of 
life and work, the present is a transition period. 
Many educational changes are in the air. The or- 
ganisation of the various branches of education re- 
quires to be completed and co-ordinated. To do 
this successfully, and work out on historical Hues the 
fullest development of our splendid system of educa- 
tion, something more is required than the application 
of the mechanical tests and appliances of the present 
day. Problems affecting both teacher and taught 
will require to be solved, and these may 
best be viewed with the historical eye. 
Artists, it is said, learn much from a study of the 
old masters, and the architects of our educational 
fabric may also glean from the methods and practice 
of these old school guardians many a useful and 
suggestive lesson. We doubt not but that this is being 
done at the present day. It only remains for all 
in their srvrral departments to imitate, in so far as 
present day circumstances will permit, the 
enthusiasm and the wise foresight which marked 
the actions of the reforming fathers of our cducu- 


tional system, and having done this we may safely 
leave its keeping to future generations assured that 
they, as we, will appreciate their patriotic labours, 
and " rise up and call them blessed." 



The present age is not conducive to the produc- 
tion of "characters." The restless spirit of the 
age, the rapid means of communication, and the 
spread of education are all tending to wipe out 
from society those individuals who were found more 
or less in every parish and town, and whose eccen- 
tricities of character or oddities of manner singled 
them out from their fellows as being in one way or 
other remarkable. They were interesting objects 
of study to the observer of human nature, and gave 
a variety to the outward aspects of life. But this 
type of humanity is passing away, and in the future 
will become more rare, and may henceforth be 
known only in the pages of the novelist or his- 

Glenbervie, in common with other parishes had 
its worthies, and in the hope that a glimpse into 
their ways and character may prove of interest we 
here subjoin a few notes on some of them. 


was born in the parish of Glenbervie in 17531 His 
father was a devoted adherent of the hapless Jaco- 
bites, and Charles himself was named after the 
young Pretender, " Bonnie Prince Charlie." The 
whole family, indeed, seem to have been staunch 
Episcopalians and Jacobites. Jean Stiyeii, in whose 
house in Stonehavcn meetings" were held after the 
destruction of the Episcopal Chapel by the bloody 
< himberland was probably an aunt of Charles Stivcn. 
It was at this time that the Episcopal ministers of 
Stonehaven, Drumlithie, and other places were put 
cm trial for holding worship in any place at which 
more tlwn five persons did assemble. For this it is 
well known they were confined in the Tolbooth of 
Stout-haven for six months during the winter of 

It was not, however, in connection with Episco- 
pacy that Charles Stiven became famous. He was 
the maker of the famous Laurcncckirk snuff-boxes 


and that delight of childhood the " totum." In 
those days both males and females indulged in the 
luxury of snuff-taking, and Charles ministered to 
the wants of the Glenbervie folk in the matter of 
snuff boxes, for a good number of years. But hia 
fame as a snuff-box-maker spread. The famous 
Lord Gardeustone of Laurencekirk heard of him, 
and being an ardent votary of the snuff box, diaries 
was induced by him to go to Laurencekirk about the 
year 1783 and thus give to Laurencekirk the reputa- 
tion over the whole world for excellent snuff boxes. 
The peculiarity of the boxes lay in the concealed spring 
and the wooden pin, and Charles henceforth devoted 
his talents to the perfection of these. Indeed, such 
a thriving trade was carried on that three establish- 
ments were set up for the manufacture of snuff 
boxes, but the Stiveus, father and son, not only 
survived the other two but also added other 
industries to their establishment, when the demand 
for snuff boxes became not so great, owing to a 
change of opinion as to the desirability of snuff 
taking. In the old stagecoach, days the Stivens 
held the booking office, and care was taken to duly 
display articles of their workmanship of all shapes 
and sizes to tempt the passengers. 

In due time the firm was honoured with the 
appointment of boxmakers to Her Majesty ; and on 
more than one occasion was "commanded" to 
appear at Balmoral with specimens of their handi- 
craft for inspection by Her Majesty. 

But whilst the wants of the adult population were 
duly attended to, he also gained a reputation as 
being the best maker of " totums " for children to 
amuse themselves with at the New Year festivities. 
These he supplied for the small sum of one half- 
penny, and no doubt many a Glenbervie and 
Laurencekirk laddie and lassie had left Charlie 
Stiven's shop in glee, fumbling his "totum " in Ms 
pocket all the way home, and eager to test the 
recommendation it had no doubt got as it came 
fresh from the hand of the wonderful Stiveu ! 

Whether in the multitude of toys and juvenile 
attractions of these latter days the old fashioned 
"totum" may or may not have been relegated to 
an obscure place in the affections ot childhood, the 
following excellent remarks on it from Frascr's 
" History of Laurencekirk " will no doubt be read 
by young and old with great interest. " In these 
modern time?, it may be u'ecessary to explain that 

this little gambling instrument was in the form of 
a cube, with a stalk or axis on which it was made 
to spin. On the four sides were painted in Roman 
capitals the letters A, D, N and T, respectively, 
and the luck of the gambler depended on which of 
those sides was uppermost when the rotatory 
motion had ceased. Let it not be despised, either 
for its simple construction, or for the fact 
that a ' Yule preen or nut ' was the 
humble stake at every game. The ori- 
gin of the totum was classical. A Roman 
emperor it matters not which satiated with the 
amusements of the age, commanded the wisest of 
Ms counsellors to find out some game whose fresh- 
ness and general excellence would recommend it to 
his imperial master, and relieve him of his ennui. 
He invented the " totum," and was rewarded with 
all but imperial honours. Hence the characters 
inscribed on the little cube, which were probably a 
mystery to all but one in a thousand of the Messrs 
Stivens juvenile patrons. A in the eyes of the 
Roman Emperor stood for " Accipe unum " which, 
however, unconsciously, was most accurately trans- 
lated in the vernacular, "A, take ane " when D 
appeared, " Donato alium " was the disappointed 
remark in the days of old Rome, supplanted in 
Laureucekirk (and Glenbervie) by the still more 
expressive " 1). duntlc doon ane." N was a nega^- 
tive quantity, calling for a contemptuous 
"Nihil" from the imperial lips, to be repeated 
with double energy by the tongues of his modern 
representatives, "N., nickle naething." The 
coveted of all the letters was T. ; success could no 
further go, whether the stake were an emperor's 
crown or a " Yule preen." " T. tak' a' ! " was the 
exultant exclamation of the Scottish youth, which 
corresponded exactly in meaning with the Roman, 
"T. totum." 


Another "character" famous in his day was 
John Davidson. John kept a shop in a small house 
close to the road from Drumlithie to Glenbervie 
House, at a place called Newbiggnig. In by-gone 
days advertising as now practised was scarcely 
known, but John must have had the spirit of adver- 
tising strongly developed in him, else he could 
never have hit upon the method he adopted to 
advertise his wares. He seems to have had the 
faculty, also, of jingling " rhymes," if ut times the 


" reason " was absent, for he concocted an adver- 
tising bill, which is a curiosity in its way. We are 
enabled to give it here through the kindness 
of the Rev. Mr Gordon, of Glenbervie, 
who has a copy of it. The quaintness it 
displays, and the ingenuity of construction it shows 
will be the apology for quoting it entire. Indeed 
it is so "fearfully and wonderfully made" that 
some modern " universal providers" have madcap- 
plication for it for advertising purposes, but it is to 
be hoped that old John's memory will be respected 
so far as to prevent modem journalism laying hold of 
the bill. John's son went to Aberdeen audlearuedthe 
baking tfade, in which he seems to have succeeded 
very well ; while his grandson settled in business in 
London, where he made his fortune. The latter 
was educated in Drumlithie School, and used to 
pay frequent visits to his father's native parish, as 
well as to the parish of Benholm, where some of his 
relatives resided. In 1891 he presented to Johnshavcn 
a lifeboat named the " Glenbervie," and at 
the launching ceremony Mr James Badeuach 
Nicolson of Gleubervie made an interesting speech 
in which he referred to Mr Davidson's connection 
with Glenbervie. 

The following is the advertising bill, the right of 
reproducing which is reserved : 

My customers, both great and small 

I thank you kindly one and all ; 

Your favors shown to me before 

I still esteem, and beg for more ; 

I will you serve, both air and late, 

With new brought goods, genteel and neat ; 

And if you'd know what things I've got 

Look down betowt-and read by rote. 

Here's Riga,>Dutc]j, and Memel llai, 

With good lorigtow, and sacking backs ; 

Powder- sugar, coarse and fine, 

Tar and iron, ropes and twine, 

Iron hoops, baith auld and new, 

Pearl ashes, starch, and blue ; 

Birse, rosin, and canary seeds, 

Rattlers, rings, and children's beads. 

Stock indigo, brimstone, and spice, 

Barley, currants, tigs and rice ; 

Good wool, cards, and story books, 

English hops and corn hooks ; 

Metal pots and good brass pans, 

Butter jars and honey cans. 

Raisins, needles, nails, and tacks, 

Garden spades and virgin wax ; 


Sugar candy, hemp, and glue, 

Wheeling wire, and fingering too ; 

Buckram, buttons, thread, and hair, 

Good mouse traps and earthen ware ; 

Garden seeds, and leather laces, 

Spectacles, and also cases ; 

Good vinegar, and pocket books, 

Salt herrings, and the best trout hooks ; 

Gunpowder, too, and good sheet lead, 

Button moulds, and clover seed ; 

Train oil to burn till it be late, 

Durham mustard, and dry skate ; 

Salt butter, cheese, and Florence oil, 

Will keep twelve months before they spoil ; 

Chopin bottles, phial glasses, 

Things fit for wives as well as lasses ; 

I've Indian herbs, both black and green, 

As good 's you'll get in Aberdeen ; 

There's fine snuff boxes no doubt, 

With iv'ry mulls turned staff about ; 

Cards and trappings, tapes and storingings, 

In winter I sell Haudie's ingans, 

Tobacco, fit to chew or puff, 

And I always sell John Coghnie's snuff. 

Gimblets here, wi' boxen heads, 

Gingerbread, and anise seeds ; 

Alum, gum-stones, and writing paper, 

And here's sweet sack, none sells it cheaper ; 

Ind and wafers, both red and black, 

With playing cards, sold by the pack ; 

I've Rowley's snuff of British herbs, 

Good common Bibles and Proverbs ; 

New Testaments, prayer books, and pens ; 

Women's thimbles here, and Men's ; 

Weavers brushes and whale fins, 

English cloth and well dress'd skins ; 

Tobacco pipes, bone combs and horn, 

And shears wherewith the sheep are shorn 

I sell dram glasses, of sev'ral sorts, 

With well dressed flax, and also shorts. 

Salt bottles here, for those who smells, 

Hartshorn drops, and nipple shells ; 

All kinds of bread, both neat and clean, 

(I learn'd to bake in Aberdeen ; ) 

At marriage, feast, or funeral, 

I'll do my best to please you all ; 

I keep my oven always warm 

And bake their meal who brings me barm, 

White iron work may here be seen, 

Just finished off in Aberdeen ; 

All sorts off skillet pans and kettles, 

And money down for your old metals ; 

Newcastle ware, too, plates and jugs, 

With sev'ral sorts of doctors drugs ; 


Wade's famous balsam, fennel seed, 
Spermaciti, and white lead ; 
Bole of borax, Spanish flies 
Oil of roses, and anise, 
Bitter aloes, and rose water, 
Oxecrotion, fit for batter ; 
Saffron, mace, and staughtou too, 
Vitroil, both white and blue ; 
Physic, and vomiters by dozes, 
Camphor, and conserves of roses, 
British oil, cried up by some. 
Fine nutmegs and shining gum, 
Bostock's cordial, gemu'ne, 
And Godfrey's, too, if you incline ; 
I've Batenian's drops and salves for cuts, 
With powders for all griped guts ; 
Speannent water, hyssop fine, 
Penny royal and spirits of wine ; 
Syrups here and things that's rare, 
Bones of violet and maiden hair, 
Oils of Unseed here and spect, 
And twenty things I must neglect, 
Ointments too, both white and yellow 
With holy-tincture, and marsh mallow. 
Hungary waters in a glass, 
Eye salve, pomatum, more or less ; 
Nit- salve I sell to cure the itch ; 
Quicksilver and Burgundy pitch. 
I keep fine drops, it's not a jest, 
Will cure the toochache, or on-beast ; 
Worm cakes I sell, and fine rose-honey, 
And all my drugs for ready money; 
And lassies all, if 'tis you will, 
I've factory lint from Gordon's mill. 
I hope you'll all come flockin' here, 
My price is good, you needna' fear ; 
Liquorice root and verdrigrise, 
Brazil, and madder, if you please ; 
Empty casks and mats of segs, 
Combed wool and jocktalegs ; 
Black-sugar, pins, and bottle corks, 
Women's muffles, knives and forks ; 
Tow, cards, and more things may be scc-u, 
With junipers, both black and green ; 
Ginger, silk, and good white thread, 
Pray then come here for what you need ; 
No man shall serve you with less prigging, 
And my name is 

JOHN DAVIDSON, at Newbigging. 


though not a native of Glenbervie yet began his 
artistic career, and developed his powers in o\ir 
little parish that it seems but graceful and fitting 


that some notice should be taken of one who, under 
many difficulties gave promise of a future which 
unfortunately was early cut short. An invalid 
from infancy, Bremner early showed a great liking 
for drawing and colouring. In this he was judi- 
ciously guided by an intelligent mother, and in a 
short time his little sketches attracted the attention 
of a few friends in the district, including Mrs 
Nicolson of Glenbervie, and Mr Stuart of Inchbreck 
by whom he was encouraged to pursue his studies. 

Beginning with the simplest flower studies, he 
thereafter attempted andvery successfully, landscape 
and rustic pieces. The thatched house by the way- 
side, the mossy bank and wimpling brook had a 
great fascination for him, and in these he was 
generally successful. "His drawing," says an 
artistic friend, " was almost invariably accurate, 
and his touch delicate. His treatment is essentially 

In portraiture he did good work both with brush 
and pencil. Commissions readily came to him, but 
Bremner had almost a morbid distrust of his own 
power. He was prone to torment himself by trying 
to distinguish between patronage due to his circum- 
stances, and recognition due to appreciation of his 
art. Through the kindness of local friends he was sent 
up to the Eoyal Institution, Edinburgh, where he 
studied under the best masters and improved his 
knowledge of art, besides having access to the 
works of the great masters. Bremner's reputation 
was bound therefore to spread beyond the confines 
of his own little world. He exhibited in Dundee 
and Aberdeen, and was represented in the Mon- 
trose Fine Art Exhibition of 1890. His work was 
also known at local bazaars and attracted always a 
considerable amount of attention from connoisseurs. 

Besides his powers as an artist Bremner also 
possessed a mind well stored by extensive reading, 
and could converse intelligently on art and art 
subjects, the discrimination and judgment which 
he displayed being for one in his position remark- 
able. " Of Mr James Bremner, artist, Drumlithie," 
says the art critic of the Montrose Standard, " it may 
be said in conventional phrase, with perfect truth, 
that he lived and died in obscurity. Reflec- 
tion upon the interest which centred in him 
and his career shows, however, how wide the bounds 
of an obscure life may in reality be. The interest 
manifested in him was by no means wholly due 


either to his position among artists or to his con- 
tributions to art. It attached to him primarily .as 
an indmchial, and was heightened by the fact of his 
being an artist. He presented an attractive per- 
sonality. The paralysis of his lower limbs, and 
generally delicate health, served to bring into relief 
the moral strength which inspired him to strive to 
overcome infirmity. To one fresh from the cease- 
less battle of the outside world the war of giants 
and pigmies, heroes and cowards peace seems the 
ruling spirit of the village where Bremner lived. It 
seemed almost necessary that peace should lap the 
cottage by the roadside and be the controlling 
element in the lives of its inmates. The greater 
the pity once more to feel that perfect peace rarely 
abides with genius ! Amiable, intelligent, and 
possessed of much true culture a rare possession, 
condiicive to modesty and self-repression Bremner 
was precisely the man to attract the attention which 
fans without feeding the fires of ambition. He felt 
the restlessness of genius. He could know no repose 
until he had found expression for the heart-feeling 
which looked out of his eyes and made his sensitive 
fingers quiver. His struggle was not like that of 
the world, ' where to live is to brawl and to battle,' 
but it was no less incessant. It went on daily in 
the recesses of his heart. To me he is a living and 
fragrant memory, pure, and inspiring ; a memory 
of patient courage untinged with grief. He had 
delivered part of the message with which he was 
entrusted. His fate is less sad than their' s ' who 
die with all their music in them.' As a matter of 
fact his art had hardly passed from bud to blossom. 
It is not to be judged absolutely. It was full of 
promise. It was tender rather than virile, delicate 
rather than strong, and at its full developement 
would probably have inclined more to penetration 
than breadth more to subtlety than cither brilliancy 
or force. He was no mere mechanic in art. His 
mind was radically poetic, and the idyllic quality is 
present in all his landscapes. Into what unknown 
region of art he might have passed none can tell. 
Perhaps he might have taken rank with other great 
artists of the north-east of Scotland Colvin Smith, 
George Paul Chambers, James Irvine, and Sir 
George Reid. He needed time to develop, and 
mayhap development goes on elsewhere." 




Most of us have heard of the man who wrote a 
book containing a chapter, headed, " Snakes in 
Iceland," in which the first sentence was " There 
are no snakes in Iceland." So might we begin 
our chapter on the antiquities of the parish, and say 
" There are no antiquities in Glenbervie." Thus, 
it is stated in the first statistical account, but ex- 
ception might be taken to that statement now, 
because since it was written one or two relics of the 
past have been unearthed, and on these we intend 
to give a few notes. There are, of course, also the 
monuments in the Douglas vault in the churchyard, 
but these have been already noticed. 

Neighbouring parishes, such as Fordouu, Dun- 
nottar, and Fetteresso, are rich in antiquities and 
legendary lore, but Glenbervie in this respect is 
singularly destitute. Old people there are in the 
parish who will give you a traditionary tale con- 
nected with one or two local spots, but they are at 
best merely " pious opinions " which they will not 
willingly let die, but which they are utterly unable 
to substantiate by actual facts. 

In common with many other places, Gleubervie 
has its 


to which a pilgrimage is made on the first Sunday of 
May in each year, by the young men and maidens 
in the district. The inevitable three pins are duly 
thrown over the shoulders of the devoted pilgrims, 
whilst the silent wish is revolved in the mind, but 
we have never heard whether or not the wishes there 
propounded have been attended by a happy realisa- 
tion. The well is dedicated to St Conau, and is 
situated in the thick plantation which runs along 
the north slope of " Drumlithie Den." 

From time to to time specimens illustrative of 


have been found, whorl-stones, stone axes and 
hammers, as well as stone cists being amongst the 
" finds." Whilst the Caledonian llailway was in 
course of construction a considerable number of 
stone coffins were unearthed in a mound on a field 


on Broombank farm. The field lies on the south 
side of the railway ; between it and the 'pays de 
france ' road which leads to the old tollhouse at 
Mondynes. The spot where they were found is no 
distance away from the Court Stone on the farm of 
Mondynes and is in an almost direct line to the east 
of it. 

In February 1878, on a declivity on the farm of 
Cleugh-head, in the i;]>i>. r pert ox the parish, a d.-t 
rontuminL; calcined bones was found, and a per- 
forated stone hammer which was sent to the National 
Museum of Antiquities, Endinburgh. 

Specimens of the bronze period in the shape of 
two swords were found on 30th April, 1880, in 
the lower part of the farm of Jacksbank, in the 
estate of Lawgavin in the parish" A drain was 
being cut by Mr Robert Smith, Ijuruhcacl, and the 
swords (leaf -shaped in form) were found close to- 
gether lying across the bottom of the drain, 
which ran from north to south. They were 
lying between the vegetable or mossy 
matter and a bed of sand, and were 
about three feet from the surface. In the 
course of removal the sword which was first seen 
was broken into three pieces, but an examina- 
tion of the fractured surface showed that till then 
it was entire. The second sword was removed with 
care, and had a smooth even surface. The whole 
length was almost 26 inches, including the handle 
plate which measured about 4 inches ; the breadth 
of the leaf was If inches. There was no appear- 
ance of wood, bone, or horn attached to the handle, 
but the pins there were standing out on either side, 
but broke off at once when touched. The blade 
was considerably bent on removal, and was found 
to be considerably oxidised. The sword weighed a 
little over 20 ozs. The entire sword and the two 
pieces were presented to the Edinburgh Museum 
also by Mr John Burnet, farmer, Jacksbank. 

"It is worthy of note " says the Rev. 
James Gammack, to whom we are obliged 
for these notes on the discovery, " as 
at least suggestive of thought, though 
without attempting to define the coincidence or the 
sequence of the stone and bronze ages in Scotland, 
that the spot where the swords were found is within 
half-a-mile of the place where the Cleughhead cist 
and hammer were found." On the same estate 
(Lawgavin) there is a stretch of ground which goes 


by the name of Muir of Germany, and tradition has 
it that a battle was fought there. But no one has 
been able either to trace the origin of the above 
name or to tell when the battle is said to have been 

Though not actually in the parish, but a very 
short distance beyond it. The 


may be mentioned hei-e as one of the most striking of 
the ancient buildings in the district. It must be of 
very ancient date. The walls are seemingly in no 
way impaired by the ravages of time, although the 
moss has gathered (hick on the grey -slated roof. 
It is said to have been built for a dower-house, and 
Ihe situation cho&en for it commands a wide view 
of the country to both east and west. Its ; look 
would suggest to one now-a-days rather the 
character of a stronghold or keep, which in the 
olden days would have served as a watch tower. 
To-day the lower partof the castle has been converted 
into a shed for the stock on the farm of the same 

It is in the legend connected with it that its 
chief interest to us lies. As is well known, it was 
the scene of the adventures of 


" TimrsiMY CAP." 

This legend has long onjioyed a great popularity in 
the North of Scotland. It was written by John 
Burness, cousin-german to llobert Burns, the poet, 
he being a son of the last William Buruess, who 
tenanted Bogjorgaa. 

Well known as the legend is we make no apology 
for here giving a short outline of it. 

The story takes its title from one of two men who 
"forgather'd o' the way" about " a hunder miles 
ayont the Forth," on a stormy winter day. 
" Ane was a sturdy bardoch chiel, 
An' fmo the weather happit weel, 
Wi' a mill'd plaiding jockey coat, 
An' eke ho on his lieid had got 
A Thrum my cap, baith large and stout, 
Wi' flaps alnnt, as weel's a snout 
Whilk buttoned close aiioath his chin 
Taekeep the cauld fme gettin' in." 
The second one was the reverse of Thrummy in his 

" For duds upo' him they were scarce, 
An unca f rich tit glowin' body, 
Ye'cl taen him for a rin-tho-wuddy." 

Tn this condition they were overtaken by a storm 
of snow-drift, and agreed to seek shelter at the 
first house they came to. 
" Syne they a mansion-house did spy 
Upo' the road a piece afore. 

On going up to the door they received a salutation 
from a " meikle dog" which caused Thrummy " to 
handle well his aiken staff." 

The landlord soon appeared on the scene and 
began to " speir the case." 
' Quo Thrummy, " Sir, we hae gaen rill, 
We thocht we'd neer a house get till ; 
We near were smo'red amo' the drift, 
And sac gudeman ye'll mak' a shift, 
To gie us quarter's a' this nicht 
For woo we dinna hao the licht 
Farer to gang, tho' it were fair, 
Sae gin ye ha'e a bod to spare, 
What'eer you chairpe, we canna grudge, 
But satisfy ye, ere we budge, 
Sae gang awa' an' fan 'tis day 
We'll pack oor a' an' tak the way." 

The landlord, however, informed them that there 
was not a bed to be got, as he had scarcely suffi- 
cient for his " ain fowks." 


" But " was his alternative to them 
" gin ye'll gan but twa miles forrit, 
Aside the Kirk dwalls Robbie Dorrit, 
Wha keeps a change-house, sells gude drink ; 
His hoose ye may mak' oot I think." 

The Kirk here mentioned is the Kirk of Glen- 
bervie, and Hobbie's " change-house" stood on the 
left hand side of the road leading from Drumlithie 
to the Kirk. The house, like many another one, 
has disappeared. 

After a good deal of parleying in whieh the land- 
lord expressed his reluctance to let the two travellers 
stay overnight, and Thrunimy his " positiveness " 
to stay, the former at last agreed to take them in, 
at the same time telling them that there was only one 
room unoccupied, and ' ' haunted by a fearfu' 
ghaist." But Thrummy knew no fears, and tried 
to screw up the courage of the other. 
" Fling by your fears, and come be cheery, 
Landlord, gin ye'll make up that bed, 
I promise I'll be verra gled 
Within the same a' nicht to lie 
If that the room be warm and dry." 

The landlord saw to their comforts and gave 
them a parting salutation and 
" bade them gang 
To bed whenever they did think lang." 

Sleep deserted the pillow of poor John, but 
Thrummy slept soundly until midnight, 
" Preserve's," quo' he, ' I'm like to choke 
Wi' thirst, and I maun hae a drink, 
I will gang doon the stair, I think, 
And grapple for the water pail. 
O' for a waucht o' caller ale ! " 

So down he goes, promising to bring to the 
terrified John " a little drap." 
But, reader, judge o' his surprise. 
"When there he saw, wi' winderin' eyes, 
A spacious vault weel stored wi' casks, 
0' reamin' ale, and some big flasks 
An' stride legs ower a cask o' ale, 
He saw the likeness o' hiinsel' 
Just iu the dress that he cuist aff 
A Thrummy cap and aiken staff, 
Gammashes, and the jockey coat, 
An' in its hand the ghaist had got 
A big four-leggit timmer bicker, 
Filled to the brim wi' nappy liquour. 

Repeated draughts of the beer were quaffed ; and 
this had the effect of " composing themsel to rest." 

An oor in bed thoy hndnn been, 
And scarcely well Imd closed their pen, 
When just into the ueighbourin' chamm'er 
They heard a drcadi'u' din and clamour. 

Thrummy ever forward goes to see what was 
wrong, and saw apparitions twa. 
The speerits seemed to kick a ba' 
The ghnist against the ither twa, 
"\Vhilk close they drave baith back and fore 
Atween the chimney and the door. 

Two against one did not not commend itself to 
Thrurnmy's sense of fair play, and so he joined in 
the sport. 

When the play was finished Thrummy is inter- 
cepted on going to bed by the ghost, and for his 
bold behaviour was to be troubled no more, on con- 
dition of doing a certain thing. This was to take 
out a stone in the wall , when a leather ball would 
be found containing the rights of the estate sewed 
Tip within it. Thrummy was to hand these over to 
the laird on receipt of fifty guineas, the Laird on 
his part being thus freed from a complicated law suit 
he was then engaged in regarding the rights of his 
estate. In the morning the Laird hinted to them 
t ) go, but Thrummy replied, 
" Sir, mind what I tell, 
I've mair richt here than you y< rsel' 
Saetill I like I here shall bide." 
The laird at this began to chide : 
Says he, "my friend, ye're turnin' rude," 
Quo Thrummy " I'll my claim niak guid, 
For here, I just before ye a', 
The richts o' this estate can show. 
And that is mair than ye can do." 

The parchments were duly produced, and 
Thrummy told him all his tale. 
" The laird at this was fidgiu' fain, 
That he had got his richts again ; 
And fifty guineas douii did tell. 
Besides a present frae himsel.' " 

Thrummy departed with his treasure his neighbour 
receiving none of the spoil, for 
"While I at the footba' played 
The coward lay trimlin' in his bed. 




Very few in the present day can realise the 
alarm and strong feelings of disgust created by the 
actions of those who, almost two generations ago, 
went by the significant name of " resurrectionists." 
In those days young men in training for the 
medical profession were required to provide a ' ' sub- 
ject" on which to operate in order to learn the 
practical part of their work. " Bodies " were not, 
however, to hand when required, and consequently 
recourse was had to the revolting practice of 
despoiling the graves of those who were newly 
buried. Hence the term "Resurrectionists" was 
applied to them. 

The disgusting practice spread great alarm all 
over the country, and the quiet parish of Gleu- 
bervie shared this fear in common with others. 
Indeed, the more remote and deserted the spot was, 
the greater likelihood there was of its being an 
attractive spot for the sacrilegious work of the 
despoiler of graves. When the angel of death has 
passed over a household, our natural feelings would 
prompt us to say a sympathetic word, or do a kindly 
action, but in those days, to the sorrow and 
grief felt at snch a time, was added the 
dread that the loved' father or mother, or brother or 
sister might be removed f rom " the long home." 
Hence precautions were taken to guard against the 
malicious work of the " Resurrectionist." 

In many cases heavy iron gratings or logs of 
wood were fixed over the graves, only to be removed 
at the lapse of a month or two, when all danger of 
the removal of the body was past. Straw, thatqh, 
and heather were also used. When the body had 
been " laired," the process of filling in the grave 
was begun by a layer of earth, after which 
came a layer of thatch or heather, and so 
on alternately. The heather or thatch proved 
an effective barrier to the spade of the " Resur- 
rectionist." Besides, the friends or relations of the 
deceased would often through " the silent watches 
of the night" place themselves on guard at the 
grave side. 

Considerable feeling was aroused in Glenbervie 
over the matter. A grave had been opened and a 


body .snatched. Speculation was rife. This, that, 
and the other story had gone abroad, and was 
noised over the parish. Public opinion had sifted 
the matter thoroughly, and suspicion was at last fixed 
on the worthy beadle and grave -digger, John Clark. 
These offices had been long in the hands of members 
of the Clark family, and now here it was publicly 
reported than John had thrown away the traditions 
of the family for upright and honourable, conduct ! 
What made the matter look worse was the fact that 
John was a servant of the kirk, and as such, should 
have been the staunch opponent of any one who, 
with sacrilegious purpose, sought to enter the sacred 
spot where the " rude forefathers of the hamlet" 

But doubt there seemed to be none that John was 
the culprit, and so great a feeling was raised in the 
kirk and parish over it that the elders of the church 
resigned in a body ! But elders' conclusions may 
j list be wrong sometimes as well as other people's. 
Things are not always, as the poet says, what they 
seem. And in this particular case they certainly 
had jumped to an erroneous conclusion. Moreover, 
no direct evidence was forthcoming against John. 
However, they forthwith demanded the resignation 
of the man who they were certain had dune the 
deed, and thus shocked the moral sense of the parish. 

The worthy Mr Drummoud, then parish minister, 
would have none of this, however. He iirmly 
believed in John's innocence. And more than this, 
he had, from actual observation, a fact which would 
tell in John's favour one of those circumstantial 
details which can often be turned to good account 
in one's cause. 

John was in the invariable habit of throwing the 
earth to the same side in opening a grave, whereas 
the one then despoiled had the earth all on the 
oppotite side from what was John's invariable 
custom. Mr Drummond had probably pleaded 
John's cause before the elders, and directed against 
them some of those keen shafts of satire and sar- 
casm which he could, when occasion required, use 
with good effect. John accordingly was not re- 
moved, but continued his melancholy task till la: 
too was " gathered to his fathers." 

In connection with the above "resurrection" 
episode, H story is told of the Ucv. Mr Druramond 
and the then laird of (ilvnbervie. In common with 
the rest of the parish the laird was very much 


shocked at the alleged scandal on the part 
of the kirk - officer. Mr Drummond had 
a fund of dry humour in which he 
delighted. The laird happened to meet the 
minister one day on the road leading to the grave- 
yard, when the conversation naturally turned on 
the recent acts of desecration. " And " said the 
I hope that is not true." Oh, yes, said Mr Drummond 
he did lift a body, I saw him come down the manse 
road with it in a big basket. ' ' A look of indignation 
crept over the laird's features, but it wore off and 
was replaced by a grim smile, when the minister, 
with a merry twinkle in his eye, added, "But it 
was only the body of a hare for the minister's pot." 

Another example of the pawky humour so 
characteristic of Scotchmen is exhibited in the 
following anecdote, connected with the same case. 
A person whom we shall call Mr X, and who was also 
strongly suspected of having known the ultimate 
destination of the " lifted " body, if not of having 
been art and part in the work, was sitting one day 
in the hotel (then directly opposite to the present 
one, in what is now Mr Wyllie's shop), talking to a 
friend who had engaged himself to a neighbouring 
farmer. Mr X. seems to have been of a sarcastic or 
bantering turn, and thought to deter the farm 
servant from his work. "Man," said he, " fowk 
will tak' you for a bogle, and ghosts will haunt you 
by nicht." " Oh," said he in reply, with a sly hit 
at the suspicion i-esting on his friend, " I care little 
wha come to me, or what they think o' me 
when living if they would only let me alaue when 
deed." The shaft had not missed its mark. Mr X. 
excused himself and made a hasty departure. 

When the body was actually lifted, it required 
considerable ingenuity and caution to get it con- 
veyed to its destination, which usually in this part 
of the country was the University city of Aberdeen. 
Numerous expedients were consequently re- 
sorted to. And there was the danger 
that the despoilers might be discovered in 
the act. The following story, though 
not actually connected with Glenbervie, but with a 
parish not far away, will illustrate this. Two body 
miiitcher* hud contrived to get a " body" removed 
t'roiu its resting place, and (hwrwo nj'/Ti-nxj 
had endeavoured to set it up on a seat in their 
vehicle, duly uttircd, and supported by them one 


on each side. Thus they set out for Aberdeen but 
while near it stopped for refreshment at a way^idn 
inn. Without leaving their seat they culled for 
their " stirrup cup," which was duly forthcoming 
for the two. The good wife of the inn was natur- 
ally surprised that they did not extend their 
hospitality to the third one, and enquired why 
they did not do so. " Oh," said the neatest one in 
a light hearted, if only too true remark " this one 
does not drink." They departed in the dark, but 
the good wife's suspicions were aroused, and on 
communicating her story to others, it was strongly 
surmised that they had a "body" between them, 
and a hot pursuit was resolved on. They were 
followed into the city, but the villains, fearing the 
consequences of their abominable action, had con- 
signed the corpse to a watery grave, by throwing it 
over the Bridge of Dee. However, they were 
"marked" men, and one of them at least found it 
so uncomfortable that he was forced to quit the 

Three score years have come and gone since these 
things happened, and we are tempted to marvel 
how such things were possible. They could not 
happen now ; but we must rejoice that they are not 
needed now. The pursuit of medical knowledge is 
now carried on in a manner more complete and 
methodical than in those exciting times, and in no 
way is the public conscience, more elevated than then, 
in the least degree shocked or annoyed. For this, 
and many other beneficent changes during the last 
two generations, we ought to be deeply thankful. 


Next to his well-known love for a theological 
discourse or argument there is, perhaps, nothing 
the average Scotchman likes better than a good 
story or joke especially when the point of t lie joke 
is directed against some other than himself. Quite 
able to meet his opponents in argument he ytt knows 
that there is, at times, something more telling than 
abstract reasoning. Where the latter would fail, 
a bit of dry humour or keen shaft of satire will 
often avail. There is not a parish in Scotland 
where a joke is not now and again " perpetrated," 
a humorous story told, or a grotesque incident 
related in illustration of this. In the olden days 


when there was less communication between places 
than there is now, and less intercourse with the 
outside world, such stories were rife. Peculiarities 
of character, incidents of rural and village life, and 
a thousand other things formed the theme for a sly 
humorous remark or a shaft of keen satirical irony. 
In the present artificial age there is less chance of 
such characteristic humour being found amongst us. 
Character may or may not be better formed under 
the levelling and equalising influence of the Board 
School and our incessant intercourse with each other 
far and near over the country, but "characters " 
those interesting subjects of study to the observant 
student of human nature will henceforth be more 
rarely found. 

Glenbervie in the past had its " characters " and 
its fund of stories which passed from mouth to 
mouth over the parish. There are many good ones 
still current amongst the parishioners, and we 
propose here to give a few by way of sample. The 
most of them are related of the Kev. Dr Drummond. 
Several of those that follow have already 
appeared in print, but being good they will bear 
repetition. Characteristic of Scotsmen they have 
nearly all reference to kirk or kirk affairs. In the 
olden days it was sometimes very difficult in a parish 
such as Glenbervie to procure a person competent 
-to lead the praise in the church. The diffusion of 
musical education through the medium of the 
parish school was a tlung undreamt of. Hence too 
often the parishioners had no more musical ability 
or taste than what Nature had originally endowed 
them with. The church, too, was devoid of any 
artificial aid to the psalmody such as is so common 
now-a-days, and so, in many instances, this part of 
the service was wofully dreary and forbidding. But 
even when a " leader" was got he did not always 
meet with the uuuniiuous approbation of the con- 
gregation. There are to be found in every corner 
of the land and in every branch of society the 
inevitable few who think everything wrong that is 
not .shaped on their own anvil. In many cases the 
"malcontents" resorted to the undignified and 
senseless method of showing their disapprobation by 


On a certain Sunday in Mr Drummond's time, it 
seouis tlitit an organised attempt had been made on 
tlic part of u i'ew to carry oiit this method of en- 


forcing their disapprobation cither of the precentor 
or the managers of the kirk. They were so far suc- 
cessful in this that he fairly collapsed. But Mr 
Drtimmond was not a man to be trifled with. At 
the moment of collapse he got up, and with a look 
of righteous indignation in his eye looked the in- 
sulters of the church service fairly in the face, and 
said in stem and solemn tones " Let us attempt to 
praise God again by singing in the 45th Paraphrase, 
1st verse." Thereupon he launched forth at their 
heads the words of solemn reproof 
" Ungrateful sinners ! whence this scoru 
Of God's long suffering grace V 
And whence this madness that insults 
The Almighty to his face ?" 

The rebuke had the desired effect. A blush 
of shame crept over the faces of the cowardly delin- 
quents, and no further attempts were made to annoy 
the precentor. 

Mr Driunmond belonged to the old school of 
divines, and in the exercise of his ministerial 
functions did not care for any outside 
interference. All sham and cant were dis- 
tasteful to him, and anything savouring in 
the least degree of dishonourable conduct came 
under his stern rebuke. On one occasion when 
about to ordain a new batch of elders he received a 
letter from one of his congregation a self-important 
farmer in the upper part of the parish in which 
he set forth in great detail the defects or weak- 
nesses in the character of one of those nominated 
for the sacred office. Mr Drummond took a very 
characteristic method of reply to the epistle. On 
the Sunday previous to that fixed for the ordination 
of the proposed elders, and at the close of the 
service he asked the congregation to stay for a 
minute or two as he had a remarkable epistle to 
read to them. Unfolding it, in solemn tones ho 
read it over from, beginning to end. In the course 
of the reading the author, who was seated in the 
gallery, was gradually sliding down from his seat, 
until the final words came " yours truly (signed) 
when he fairly disappeared below the book 
board. The hope may have flickered in the author's 
breast to the last that his name would not be 
mentioned, but Mr Drumrnond, no doubt, judged 
rightly that this unique method of replying to his 
misguided literary zeal would have the effect in the 


future of checking the ardour of those who might 
be too ready to cast aspersions on the personal 
character of their neighbours. 

Whilst on one of his pastoral visitations Mr 
Drummond met one of his congregation who he 
recollected had been absent from church for a few 
successive Sundays. After the usual salutations 
had been exchanged between them, the minister 
ventured to hint that he had missed him from 
church, aud enquired whether he was in his usual 
good health. In a semi-apologetic strain the good 
man replied that he had been to Fordoun Church 
to hear " Maister Buchan," who at the time had a 
great reputation in the district as a preacher. 
"Ay, and what thought ye o' him," said the 
minister. " michty bricht, sir, michty bricht." 
This description fairly tickled the fancy of the 
minister who bade him " good day " and departed 
with a faint smile beaming over his features. 
Apropos of Mr Buchan we may here give an anecdote 
connected with Fordoun similar to the one above 
quoted. Like Mr Drummond, the minister of 
Fordoun had been enquiring of one of his flock a 
shepherd what had come over him that he was so 
seldom at church. The shepherd who lived in the 
upper end of the parish replied that he found it 
more convenient for him- to attend at Fettercairn, and 
that he had been going there. This did not com- 
mend itself as a fully satisfactory reply to the 
reverend gentleman, who by a sort of mild argument 
said to the shepherd, " But you, a shepherd, I am 
sure, do not like your sheep to wander away and 
poach on other people's preserves. You would like 
them to stay on your own side of the hill." " Weel 
sir" replied the shepherd, with a sly look, "I 
widna care very muckle whare they gaed, gin the 
girse were ony better." This significant hint was 
no doubt, not lost on Mr Buchan, but whether the 
shepherd came back to the Fordoun fold, or not, 
history does not say. 


In the days, previous to railways, as is well known 
the chief means of communication with the 
neighbouring towns was by the carrier. On one 
occasion, one of these a Glenbcrvie man was 
come upon by Mr Drummond, not far from the 
village. His cart was pretty heavily loaded, and had 


stuck fast in a deep rut on the road. Do what he 
could the poor man could not get it out, but on 
coming up the minister sympathised very much 
with him, and better still, put his shoulder to the 
wheel. By their combined exertions the cart was 
soon set agoing. The carrier was most effusive in 
expressing his thanks to his reverence, and wound 
up his remarks in words, more forcible than polite, 
by saying 

"Deed, Maister Drummond, you are deevilish 
strong," With a significant shake of the hand, 
and a slight look of disapprobation on his face the 
minister said, " Oh no sir, no, no, not so strong as 
kirn.* 1 

The carrier in his attempt to tone down the force 
of his language, which he recognised as a little too 
strong, probably thought he had succeeded much 
better in expressing his admiration of the minister's 
strength when he blurted out " Weel then, Mr 

Drummond, you are d d strong." Evidently 

the carrier was wofully deficient in the relative 
force or meaning of certain words in the English 
language, but his lapsus linguae may be forgiven in 
his no doubt sincere desire to convey to the minister 
a well-earned compliment for the timely help he 
had thus afforded him. 


In many rural parishes it is the rule to have only 
one service in church on Sunday, and this has 
always beea the invariable custom in Glenbervie. 
On one occasion it was suggested to Mr Drummond 
that he should give two discourses instead of one, 
as was done in other parishes in the Presbytery. 
The minister did not give a direct reply to the 
suggestion, but taking out a shilling asked of his 
somewhat zealous clerical friend, if that was not 
as good as two sixpences, implying that his one 
sermon was as good as any two of his friend's dis- 


The old-fashioned plan of the minister 
going from house to house in his parish 
for the purpose of " catecheesin " the 
parishioners has entirely been departed from. The 
Shorter Catechism was and indeed still is a standard 
manual in Glenbervie for thf religious instruction 
of those of " weaker capacity." Great store used to 
be set ou the little book in the oldeu days, and Mr 


Drummond was most anxious in seeing that each 
household in the parish was supplied with it. One 
day he called on a small shopkeeper in Drumlithie, 
Sandy Cant by name, to see if he had got a supply of 
the Catechism. " Oh yes," says the shopman, "here 
is a copy of Leitch's Catechirms with Scripture 
proofs, and I can sell them noo far cheaper than I 
used to do, ye see the duty's reduced. This 
rather surprised the minister who remarked 
" You surely must be mistaken, there never was 
any duty put upon the catechism." " Excuse me 
minister ye're wrang, just look at the bottom of 
the title page on the Royal Arms andye'U see there 
in black and white, " duty moderate." Such was 
Sandy's rendering of " Dieu et man droit." The 
minister enjoyed a hearty laugh at the good man's 
rather free translation of the French motto. 


On one occasion Mr Drummond had gone in to 
visit a person who had the misfortune to have lost one 
of his legs, a substitute being found in a wooden one 
which he possessed. The minister sat down and in 
the conversation which followed his eye lighted on 
the rafters of the house, where he espied what 
to all appearances was the chanter of a pair of 
bagpipes. "I see you are musical, William, ye 
play the bagpipes." " Na, na, Mr Drummond, 
was the man's reply, that's nae bagpipes ava, its 
just my Sabbath leg." The old man had thus 
provided himself with an extra one in case of 


In olden times it was customary for goodwives in 
the winter season to lay in a goodly supply of beef 
in case of a stress of weather or other causes 
rendering the usual regular supply unavailable. 
There were not then of course the same facilities 
for getting all kinds of goods delivered 
as there are to-day. The carrier's cart might be 
delayed by a storrn, and in the more remote parts 
of the country the precaution was taken of "sawtin" 
such a quantity as would serve them for a con- 
siderable time. A local butcher, who was in the 
habit of supplying the occupants of the Manse with 
their supply of meat, conveyed to Mr Drummond 
the intimation that he had a " very nice piece of 
beef for sawtin" the broad Scotch accent with 
which the message was delivered making the word 


look like the old fashioned pronunciation of the 
name Satan. " Tell the butcher," said the minister 
to his informant, " that we want none of his beef ; 
we have enough to do with ourselves without pro- 
viding for Satan : he can very well look after him- 


When on a pastoral visitation one day, in the 
upper district of the parish, he called upon an old 
farmer who was in a very poor state, and who was 
expected not to live long. He spoke very tenderly 
to him, and advised him seriously to think of his 
great approaching change, When the minister had 
finished his kindly exhortation the patient looked up 
in his face and quietly remarked, " Ay Mr Dram- 
mond, I thackit my hoose in the calm, and noo I 
am prepared for the storm." 


Of the present minister of the parish, Mr Gor- 
don, we may be permitted to relate the following 

Whilst on a round of visitation he had occasion 
to call on a certain old woman in the upper part of 
the parish. The old body had had her temper 
sorely tried that day by the repeated visits of 
beggars and tramps. Just before the minister had 
' come up to her door she had turned off in hot 
haste one of the wandering fraternity, and was 
busy at the fireside doing some cooking. The 
minister on going up to the door, knocked, but 
imagine his surprise when he heard coming from 
the inside of the house " Gae awa' hame wi' ye, 
I've ha'en plenty o' your kind the day." 
The good man had never received such 
a brusque salutation before, but nothing 
daunted he entered the old woman's dwelling with 
a smiling face, and inquired in his kindly way for 
her. The woman's feelings on seeing the reverend 
gentlemen, who she imagined would be another 
tramp, may be better imagined than described. 




No account of denbervie would be complete 
without a few words on its main industry 

In the early part of the eighteenth century, 
and indeed much later, many parts of the parish 
were in a wild and uncultivated state. Probably 
then not much more thaii one-fourth of the parish 
was cultivated. Even at so comparatively recent a 
period as the beginning of the present century over 
eight thoiisand acres consisted of land unfit for 
tillage or hill ; whilst other 1291 acres were con- 
sidered as improvcable, that is had recently been 
reclaimed. Still later, in 1830, according to the 
Statistical Account, ' ' There are many acres in a 
wild state, but capable of cultivation. A consider- 
able proportion of these may probably continue as 
they arc, for a longer period than the progress of 
improvement elsewhere would lead us to infer." 

The first half of the eighteenth century was a 
time of 


in agriculture. Besides local circumstances, adverse 
to the farming community, the century was re- 
markable for some very severe storms, which did 
great damage to crops.- 

The farmer had no great security to encourage 
him in agricultural enterprise. Highland raids were 
not uncommon and these led sometimes to great 
desolation. Glenbervie was almost in the direct 
line of march of these Highland freebooters and no 
doubt had suffered along with her neighbours from 
these depredations. 

Apart from these considerations, farmers then 

that would do justice to the soil. The plough was 
a clumsy and awkward instrument, and was 
generally drawn by oxen. Towards the end of the 
Eighteenth Century there were over 50 ploughs in 
the parish. Forty years later there were over 70 
"scientifically constructed, and of the most effec- 
tive description." About 1790 there was not a 
thrashing-machine in the parish, whilst about 1830 
therewcrelO. Indeed, previous to 1786 there were not 
above two or three in Scotland, and ten years later 


they were introduced into the county, where they 
were very generally adopted although their great 
expense and the great power required to put them 
in motion limited the application of them to farming 

Besides the lack of suitable implements, the 
county suffered also from proper 


Roads were ill-adapted and full of ruts. Riding or 
walking consequently formed the chief means of 
locomotion. The old turnpike passed through 
Glenbervie, and from it numerous bridle paths 
crossed both to the hills and the coast. 

The storms of the century were remarkable. The 
years 1740 and 1782 standout prominently in this 
respect. In the former year the frost was long and 
very intense, and vegetation consequently suffered 
severely. The latter year is known as the year of 


A very small quantity of the crop only was secured, 
and what there was, was not of good quality. 
Glenbervie farmers seem to have suffered severely. 
The poor were reduced to great distress. The 
ground did not produce so much as would 
have maintained the inhabitants six mouths. 
In this and the following year, the Kirk 
Session, the universal provider for the poor 
in those days, applied nearly 140 stg. of their 
funds, in purchasing white pease and barley, in 
order to keep the poor from starvation, and to 
relieve the necessities of the other inhabitants. The 
poverty of the crops will be fully realised when we 
know that, hi general, they were more than suffi- 
cient for the support of the inhabitants. The crops 
then grown were oats, bear, pease, potatoes, clover 
and rye -grass. 

In very remote periods we have no reliable data 
on which to form an estimate of the state of agri- 
cnlture, but we know that it must have been very 
rude. Up to a period subsequent to the last 
Jacobite rising in 1745, the principles of agriculture 
were very imperfectly understood. Even in such 
an advanced district as the Lothians this was so, 
and consequently in the Mearns and other distant 
counties we must conclude that agricultural know- 
ledge and practice were less well understood. 
Nearly all the scientific principles with which the 


agriculturist is now familiar, and acts upon, had 
hardly begun to appear. Improvements in tillage 
operations, in agricultural machines and implements, 
the cultivation of our commoner crops such as 
turnips, potatoes, clover, and other artificial grasses 
was in a manner totally imknown. 
But whilst this was so, the 


was beginning to excite attention. Through the 
influence of the enlightened Cockburn of Ormiston 
a society was formed in East Lothian in 1736 for 
the improvement of agriculture, and several gentle- 
men connected with the Mearns were members of 

~f it, one of these being the famous Lord Monboddo. 

Y Indeed, it is pleasing to reflect that amid the 

general depression of the Eighteenth Century, 
efforts were being made in different directions for 
the improvement of farms and farming. That 
bright band of agricultural reformers included 
amongst others the famous Barclay of Ury, who 
more than any other exerted himself for the 
improvement of agriculture, and whose example 
and influence made itself felt on the other landed 
proprietors of the county. In addition there were 
Silver of Xetherley, Ramsay of Fasque, Burnett of 
Monboddo, and Sir William Nicolson of Glenbervic. 
Of Sir William's work we shall presently speak, 
but a clearer idea will be got if we briefly indicate 
the nature of the work these public -spirited men 
carried out. These may best be spoken of under 
the following heads : (1) Draining, (2) Trench 
ploughing, (3) removal and disposal of stones, (4) 
liming, (5) fencing, and (6) rotation of crops. 
The need for 


was great. The fields in many cases were wet 
swampy bogs, and frequently draining could not 
be carried out till ditches were formed a few yards 
from each other. The drains were generally two- 
and-a-half feet wide at the top, ten inches at 
the bottom, and about three feet deep. The drains 
were, of course, built of stones which were got from 
the fields. These were turned up by the trench 
plough, and so could be easily available not only 
for the building of drains, but also for dykes for 
fencing. The other object in trench ploughing was 
of course to acquire a greater depth of soil. 


When the drainage, trench ploughing, and 
other operations had been completed, the opera- 
tion of 


could be carried out. This was not on an extensive 
scale for the reason probably tUat it was difficult to 
get any considerable quantity transported, the 
roads being then so bad that it had to be carried in 

/bags slung over the backs of horses from either 
Gourdon or Stonehaven. 
The last, but by no means the least, of the many 
advances in agriculture initiated by the Mearns re- 
formers was the 


That this was very imperfectly understood during 
the first half of the Eighteenth Century at least was 
only too evident. The conditions set out in some 
of the old leases bear evidence of this. In one it 
was said " there shall not be more than^re crops of 
oats in succession. The practice of thus scourging 
the land was sometimes carried much further. A 
farmer of the old school, said to have been a Glen- 
bervie man, on being complimented on the good- 
ness of his crop on a particular field said, 
" No wonder, it is only the eighteenth crop in 
succession since it got gudeing (manure)." 
Barclay, who had acquired his (for that 
jf time; advanced ideas on agriculture in the 
county of Norfolk, in England, was the 
main influence ill advising others to carry them 
out, and that his example had induced the people 
of Gleubervie to follow it is attested thus by the 
Rev. Mr Thorn, in the first Statistical Account : 
*' For the knowledge of these improvements, this 
county and neighbourhood, are principally, if not 
altogether, indebted to Mr Barclay of Urie, whose 
'exertions in agriculture have been very great, and 
attended with success." 

The particular improvement in agricultural 
practice to which Glenbervie can justly lay claim, 
was the introduction for the first time into the 
county of the practice of 


This was the work of Sir William Nicolsou, de- 
scribed by an eminent writer of the early part of 
the present century, as a " spirited cultivator at an 
early period." This was about the year 1730,. 
although the practice had been adopted in East 


Lothian ten years previously by Lord Haddington. 

Previous to this theonly hayproducedinthecounty 
was got from the natural meadows, which consisted 
in very many cases of uudrained swamps andmorasses. 
Whilst the "bloody Cumberland" was on his 
northward march in' pursuit of the " Bonnie Prince 
Charlie " and his followers, it was from hay of this 
kind that his cavalry were supplied, and as the 
chapel at Drumlithie was burned then by his men, 
it is just possible that he had availed himself of 
whatever fodder could be got in the parish for his 
horses. It must have been but miserable feeding at 
the best, and often cost a deal of labour to procure. 

The following extract will explain Sir William's 
method : 

" He was the first person in the Mearns who raised 
hay from seeds ; not, however, from the seeds of any of 
the species of clover now in iise, but from such seeds as 
were found among the natural meadow hay. Neither 
was the land put into that fine tilth that arises from the 
cultivation of turnip, or summer fallow ; for these modes 
of preparation were not then known here. But he 
sowed his seeds among oats of the third or fourth crop 
from ley. And the produce was so far good, at least, 
as to excite the astonishment of his neighbours. It 
must indeed have been very much superior to the then 
usual method of leaving the land to renew its herbage, 
as it best could, without aid from seeds of any kind." 

This new method of Sir William's was not, per- 
haps, of so great moment in itself, but it pointed 
out the way to others to still, further improve the 
hay crop, and had several very beneficial indirect 
results. In fact, it marked the commencement of 
a " new departure ' ' in the agriculture of the county. 
Not merely did these artificial grasses furnish anew 
and better relished supply of food for cattle, but, 
requiring as they did, a more improved method of 
cultivation, they forced on the farmer a more cor- 
rect and thorough method of cultivation, 
in order to get his lands into the fine 
tilth and higher state of perfection, without which 
they will not prosper. Thus, whilst a more 
luxuriant crop of grass was obtained, the soil itself 
was rendered more productive for the succeeding 
crops. Although Glenbervie led the way in this, it 
does not appear that the practice of sowing clover 
or other artificial grasses was general over the 
county till aboutlTGO., Indeed, it was ten years 
after that date till it was in general use amongst the 
tenants. From that time the culture of these 


grasses extended rapidly, xmtil about the beginning 
of the present century, when the total amount 
sown out in grasses was 28,641 acres, or nearly two- 
fifths of all the lands in cultivation. 

About the same time as the cultivation of grasses 
became general, another sf urce of food supply for 
cattle, viz. turnips, was introduced into the M earns. 
These two circumstances form a remarkable stage 
in the history of agriculture in the county, and 
serve to show that amidst the general depression 
which marked the Eighteenth Century, there were at 
least some new and improved means of supply 
available to farmers which not only demanded a 
higher state of cultivation, but also reacted bene- 
fically on the rearing and health of the farmers' stock. 


or watering ef the land is a practice now entirely 
abandoned amongst us. It is said to have been 
pretty prevalent in the county during the Eighteenth 
Century. It was carried out by Sir William Nicol- 
son iii the year 1740, and in this particular method 
of agriculture is said to have been very successful. 
A writer of the period gives information and opinion 
on the practice, " All I have been able to learn on 
this subject is, that about the year 1740, Sir William 
Nicolson of Gleubervie, flooded land for com, as 
well as for grass, and was very successful in both. 
That irrigation was afterwards pretty generally 
diffused over the face of the country, and con- 
tinued almost to the present day. I have 
myself seen several trenches of considerable length at 
least more than a mile, for the purpose of conducting 
water to flood a fiavourite field. How this practice 
came to be exploded, I have never heard satisfactor- 
ily accounted for. Perhaps lime, the present idol 
of agriculturists, has, in this respect, had its influ- 
ence. Yet though that manure is found to be 
highly beneficial, the watering of land ought 
not to have been abandoned. There is room 
enough and to spare for both modes of melioration. 
Should the disuse of irrigation have proceeded 
merely for caprice, there is room to hope that it 
may again be revived, from the same principle that 
we have lately seen the exploded square-toes of a 
former age become again fashionable in this." 

Glenbervie in more modern times can lay claim 
to another distinction in connection with agri- 
culture. It gives its name to the famous 



potato. This variety has enjoyed a splendid 
Deputation during the last fifty years or thereby, 
and is yet acknowledged as a leading 
favourite even amidst the keen competition 
for public favour of the ever-increasing number of 
varieties of this useful vegetable. It was ' ' brought 
out" by Mr David Gairns, gardener for long at 
Gleubervie House. Mr Gairns was an enthusiastic 
and successful gardener, and gained many prizes 
both for flowers and fruits at the leading shows in 
the district. In his time the varieties of potatoes 
were more limited than now, when scarcely a year 
passes withoiit seeing one or more new kinds sprung 
on the attention of growers. The " Glenbervie 
Early " was not long in establishing itself in public 
favour as a desirable potato, and although the 
original character of the variety is no doubt now 
considerably altered, nevertheless it retains, 
especially in the north-eastern counties, a foremost 
place in public esteem. 

In the early part of the century the " White 
Kidney" was mostly planted. Robertson in his 
" Agricultural Survey " states that the kind most 
commonly planted was " a round sort, of a darkish 
colour, not to be easily distinguished from the earth 
in which it grows. It has a coarse and hardy 
appearance, but is very hardy and prolific." 

It was said to be a -good "keeper." This was 
probably the "Regent" variety. Later in the 
century the leading varieties were "Duffs," 
"Dons," "Leather Coats" (a very suggestive 
name) "Blue Kidneys" and the "Large" and 
"Small Americans." 

The names of varieties cultivated now are legion. 
The ' ' Champion ' ' still does its best to justify its 
name, although run hard by many others, the out- 
come of systematic and often scientific treatment. 
Half a century ago the terrible " blight " that befel 
the potato crop proved a serious calamity to the 
whole country. This was looked upon by many as 
a " dispensation " from Heaven, but which probably 
proved in the end to be a blessing in disguise. 
There can be no doubt that it turned men's thoughts 
to more scientific treatment in the culture of 
potatoes than had hitherto obtained, and to a more 
careful and judicious selection of seed potatoes. 

Thus, what was looked upon as a great disaster 
and a public calimity, in the end was beneficial to 


the potato crop ; and every student of modem 
history knows that in the case of Ireland (where it 
first appeared) it ultimately had wider and more 
far-reaching effects effects felt to the present day 
than the improvement in the culture and selec- 
tion of the. .potato? 

It is amusing to us to read in the light 
of our fuller knowledge and experience, 
the first attempts at potato growing in 
the county. Marykirk had the honour of leading 
the way in thlsT The good people of Marykirk to- 
day are an enlightened, honest, and m many re- 
spects ingenious community, but if we are to believe 
the description here quoted from Robertson's Survey, 
these qualities must be of comparatively recent 
growth: "In Kincardineshire this useful plant 
was first cultivated, about the year 1727, in the 
village of Marykirk, by an old soldier, who had ac- 
quired the knowledge of it, together with some roots 
in his possession, from his peregrinations in Ireland. 
He lived, here, however, only a single season. And 
although the villagers were ready enough to steal 
his crop, none of them had the ingenuity to culti- 
vate it after he was gone. They would, indeed, 
look long in vain for the seed from the stems. This 
circumstance I relate on the testimony of a respect- 
able farmer, whose grandfather stated it as having 
happened when he was a boy there at school." 

When they were again introduced in 1760 about 
forty years later they were accounted of so much 
value as to be considered on a level in value with 
apples and pears, and were as sparingly dealt out 
then as apples and oranges would be now at li 
children's Christmas party. 

At the beginning of the present century there 
were only 50 acres under cultivation out of a 
total of 1160 acres in the wholecounty. The average 
price then was close upon 2 10s per ton, and the 
average produce was about 21 Kincardineshiro bolls 
or sis. tons the English acre. After home wants 
had been supplied the surplus was taken either to 
Aberdeen or Montrose. 

To-day there is no vegetable more relished and 
more assidously cultivated than the potato, and 
although Gleubervie is not a " potato country " in 
in the same sense that many parishes further down 
the Howes of the Mearns and Stratlimprc, and 
along the Coast are yet" as evidenced by the magni- 
ficent display of potatoes at the annual horticultural 


exhibition and other proofs, the people of Glen- 
bervie to-day are as enthusiastic as ever to uphold 
the character they have acquired for skill in the 
growth of this beneficial and useful plant. 

To conclude our short account of the agricultural 
history of Glenbervie a brief estimate as between 
the past and the present may be here made. 

The period of the union of the Parliaments of 
England and Scotland (1707) may be taken as the 
dawn of the revival of agriculture in Scotland. 
That union at first strenuously opposed, and declared 
to be the precursor of many evils for Scotland was 
in reality the beginning of an era in which progress 
in material wealth and prosperity was con- 
joined with a decided and beneficent progress in 
many of the industrial arts. In that general 
improvement, agriculture shared. England was 
at this time far ahead of Scotland in 
the practice of agriculture, and from England 
many improvements in agricultural methods and 
practice were brought home by the legislators whose 
parliamentary duties now called them to the 
southern capital. Amongst the early improvers of 
our agricultural practices we may mention 
the famous Cockbarn of Orniiston, the member for 
Haddingtonshire, Thomas, sixth Earl of Hadding- 
ton, Lord Belhaven, Lord Kames and others in the 
south of Scotland, whilst mention has already been 
made of the famous Barclay of Ury and the other 
Kincardineshire lairds who followed his enlightened 
example. The improvement during the first half 
of the Eighteenth Century was indeed slow, nor is 
this to be wondered at when the circumstances of 
the times and other hindering conditions are taken 
into account. But the close of the century brought 
with it a new order of things. The seeds sown by the 
agricultural reformers were yet to be wakened into 
a new and more vigorous life. A blast from the 
continent reached men's ears. That blast was the 
sound of the French Kevolution which in 1789 con- 
vulsed France, and startled the other nations of 
Europe. To this day its effects are being felt. 
Men's minds and energies were stirred by this 
momentous event, and in 1793 Britain was drawn 
into the great Napoleonic wars which for more than 
twenty years desolated a great part of Europe, and 
only ended with the defeat of Napoleon and 
all his ambitious plans on the bloody field of 
Waterloo. These wars gave an extraordinary al- 


though unhealthy stimulus to agriculture 
Prices, owing to deficient harvests and the pro- 
hibitions of Napoleon, rose to an enormous height. 
After the peace of 1814 prices fell. A period of 
comparative depression followed, but the outbreak 
of the Crimean War again produced a revival of 
agricultural prosperity, and the value of land con- 
sequently rose. At present, and for a considerable 
time past, agriculture has been in a depressed 
condition, the causes of which we do not attempt 
to explain, although there can be no doubt they 
are many and far-reaching. If it be true that 
history repeats itself a revival of agricultural pro- 
sperity will assuredly come. Remedial measures 
for the relief of agriculture may have to be passed 
by the legislature, but meantime it seems most 
advisable for all concerned to exercise a sympathetic 
and practical interest and forbearance towards each 
other till the sun of prosperity shall again shine on 
the most important of our industries agriculture. 

As one stands by the sea shore and watches the 
advancing and receding waves, it may be difficult 
to know whether the tide is ebbing or flowing. 
But in spite of the present low ebb in the 
agricultural stream there can be no denying the 
fact that to-day in respect of agricultural practice 
and conditions of life and work we stand far ahead 
of our ancestors who lived in the " good old times." 
The culture and conditions of all plant life on the 
farm are better understood ; rotation of 
crops is steadily and systematically pursued ; 
the application of artificial manures to the 
soil is regarded as part of good husbandry ; 
the rearing and breeding of stock is better under- 
stood ; our implements and machines of all kinds 
are now in a very high state of perfection ; houtang 
whether for master, servant, of stock is infinitely 
superior to what it was ; the standard of comfort 
and style of living are on a higher level ; education 
is more generally diffused ; and general intelligence 
in both master and servant better developed than 
in the past. 

But there are always two sides to the shield. 
Whilst what we have above stated is no doubt true 
of the agricultural community, it is to be regretted 
that there has been along with it a gradual removal 
of much that was eminently desirable and 
attractive in the past. On good authority 
we are told that there was a very 


common sentiment and community of feeling be- 
tween master and servant ; that there was a zealous 
desire to work in a common interest ; that there was 
a spirit of reverence and respect for both the Kirk 
and the Sabbath. These and other laudable features 
marked the past. - We could wish that there were 
more of them now. The unsettling tendencies of 
the present age have permeated into the heart of 
the agricultural classes, and destroyed in them much 
that was for their own advantage. With .the ex- 
perience of the past before them, and the observ- 
ation of what is before them at present, it may be 
hoped that they will in the future graft 
on to their daily life and work all that 
has been proved to be beneficial to them and theirs 
in the past. The wish expressed by the immortal 
Burns in his noble poem, " The Cottar's Saturday 
Night" may, with even greater force than in his 
day, be here uttered, and with it we conclude our 
short account of the agricultural history of the 
parish : 

" Oh Scotia, my dear my native soil ! 
For whom my warmest wish to heavea is sent ! 
Long may thy hardy sons of rustic toil 
Be blest with health, and peace, and sweet content ! 
And O ! may heaven their simple lives prevent 
From luxury's contagion, weak and vile ! 
Then, however crowns and coronets be rent, 
A virtuous populace may rise the while, 
And stand a wall of tire around their much-loved isle." 




That Glenbervie was the cradle of the family of 
Burns is one of the outstanding facts in the history 
of the parish. While it fills the natives of the 
district with pride, it invests Glenbervie with a 
world-wide interest, in which the whole of the 
Mearns and part of Angus have a share. The in- 
vestigations of the past forty-five or fifty years have, 
through various channels, been made known, but 
their results have not been generally realised. Who, 
even amongst students of Barns, ever dreams of 
associating him with the Bervie and the Carron, 
with Carmount and Inchbreck, with Knockhill and 
the old churchyard of Glenbervie ? Are they even 
familiar with the names of these hills and streams? 

Speak of Burns, and nine out of ten of his country- 
men will at once turn to Ayr, and the "auld 
clay biggin' " in which he was born ; to Mount 
Oliphaut, Lochlea, Mossgiel, and Ellisland ; 
to Mauchline, Irvine, Kirkoswald, Kilmarnock, and 
Dumfries. They picture him musing by the 
gurgling Ayr and Doon, or wandering in creative 
mood by the more majestic Mth. For Glenbervie 
House they see Coilsfield, and for Drum- 
lithie Tarbolton. In short, few pilgrims 
"to the " Land of Burns " ever think 
of any other part of Scotland than that which lies 
in the southern counties of Ayr and Dumfries. 
They may have heard but know nothing of another 
Land of Burns, lying at the head of Strathmore, 
under the shadow of the towering Grampians. 

It is impossible, and it certainly is not here in- 
tended, to break the bond between Burns and the dis- 
trict which claims him in virtue of birth, life, death, 
and abounding monumental memorials. His songs 
are mainly of the South, and there he found his 
many heroines, thesubjectsof hischaracter vignettes, 
and the materials for his fascinating works in 
poetical genre. In virtue of his ancestry, the 
generations of at least two centuries, he 
nevertheless belongs to Glenbervie. 

None of Burns' earlier biographers makes any 
allusion to the subject of his northern descent. 


Even Scott Douglas, with Dr Burnes' "Notes on 
his name and family " before him, treats the 
matter very slightly. That little volume, printed 
in 1851, was unfortunately only issued for private 
circulation. It is, in consequence, very little 
known and still hides in its original obscurity. 
The facts were circulated more widely by Dr 
Charles Kogers. In the first place, he issued in 
. 1877 his "Genealogical Memoir of the Family of 
Robert Burns." In the second place, and in a very 
effective manner, he attracted general attention to 
Burns' connection with Glenbervie, by the part he 
took in the ceremony of handing over to the 
heritors the restored tombstones of sundry 
ancestors of the poet, whose neglected graves were 
discovered in the parish churchyard. 

This most picturesque and solemn of Homes of 
the Dead is situated on a plateau near a finely 
wooded bend in the Bersie, and under the dark 
shadow of Knockhill, within two miles of Drum- 
lithie, and within bowshot of the Parish Church. 
It is bounded upon one side by the approach to the 
Manse, by which it is overlooked, and on the other 
side, at the foot of the slope, by a brattling bum, 
which runs cheerily past the gloomy spot to join 
the Bervie. A few miles away, towards the North, 
are the Braes of Glenbervie upon the southern slope 
of an outlying spur of the Grampians. From the 
highroad leading past the front of the Parish Kirk, 
known as the Brae Road, between two and three 
miles northwards, and before dipping down into 
the western section of the valley of the Carron, 

J three farms can be surveyed Brawlinmuir or 
Brawliemuir, Bogj organ and Bogherb which were 
held by those when in life who now slumber in the 
Parish God's Acre. 
These farms form part of the estate of 
N Inchbreck, for many generations a possession of 
the family of Alexander Stuart, Esq., of Laithers, 
Turriff . Between the Braes of Glenbervie and the 
Bervie water, and from Droop Hill eastward along 
the sloping sides of Cannount including the 
farms of Inches, Elfhill, Hawkhill, Kinmonth, and 
Clochanhill or Clochnahill there is not a rood of 
ground without it association with the Ayrshire 
peasant poet. The district indicated is the nursery 
of the race of Burnes or Burns. 

Dr James Burnes and Adam Burues, sons of 
\ Provost Burnes, Moutrose, visited the churchyard 


about forty years ago (circa 1850-55), and found 
the graves of their and the poet's ancestors almost 
hidden under soil and an overgrowth of grass, moss, 
and weeds, and the stones placed . over them 
fast crumbling to decay. Two flat or 
thorough stones rested upon the soil. One bore 
the dates 1715 and 1719, and marked the 
resting-place of William Burnes, tenant in Bog- 
jorgan, great-granduncle of the poet, and his wife, 
Christian Fothermgham ; the other commemorated 
James Bunies, tenant in Bralinmuir, and his wife, 
Margaret Ealcongr, the great - grandparents of 
Burns. TheTaTEer stone was lying upon its face. 
Upon being turned over it was found to bear, under 
the conventional death's head the folio wing inscrip- 
tion : 


J. B. 

Here under lyes the body of 
JAMES BURNES, who was Ten- 
ant in Bralinmuir, who died 
ye 23 of January, 1743. Aged 

M. P. 

Also the body of MARGARET 
FALCONER, his spouse, who 
departed this life the 28th 
of Dec., 1749, aged 90 years. 

87 years. 

Although our bodys worms destroy our reins consumed be, 

Yet in our flesh and with our eyes Shall our Redeemer See. 

Here is the grave of Thomas Burnes son to the above, who 
departed this life June ye 8, 1734, aged 29 years. Also his 
lawful and only daughter, Margarett, who departed this life 
March ye 24th, 1741, aged 8 years. 

For many years after the visit of the Montrose 
Burneses, " decay's effacing fingers " were allowed 
to carry on the process of obliteration. At length, 
and only a few years ago, a committee was formed, 
under the secretaryship of Mr J. B. Greig, banker, 
Laurencekirk, in order to take steps to arrest the 
further progress of elemental disintegration. Funds 
were raised, sufficient to erect two sandstone cradles 
resting upon pedestals, in which the original stones 
were encased. Unfortunately, being simply laid 
flat in the cradles preparad for their recepion, the 
stones are even more exposed to every atmospheric 
agency than when lying upon the ground, partially 
protected by debris and herbage. 

The ceremony referred to took place upon 25th 
June, 1885, and many of the words then spoken 
are well worthy of preservation. As proprietor of 
Inchbreck, Mr Stuart said that he esteemed it a 
high and great honour still to hold the 
bit of land on which the race of Burns 
first saw the light, and he hoped that 


the memory of the family would never die out of 
their native neighbourhood. It was fit and proper 
that the tombstones of the forbears of a great man 
should not be allowed to disappear under foot, but 
should be preserved for all future ages. 

Upon the same lines, but going further, Mr 
Greig reached the real core of the matter viz., the 
character and quality of the forefathers of the 
poet. Burns' being no evanescent fame, he felt that 
such memorials in the Mearns as were associated 
with his name would be of interest to their 
children's children, and were well deserving of their 
reverent care. Such glimpses as they had of the 
old race were attractive. They seem to have been 
" bawsint " men firm strung, of keen insight, 
sparing of speech, not easily " shot aboot," dour 
but not vengeful, and with a high con- 
ception of the possibilities of life. Minding 
sedulously their own affairs, they did not 
allow their private concerns to bound their view ; 
the right was the right though the "lift should fa'." 
To such men in those troublous times the tragedy 
of life brought many and great vicissitudes, and 
such natures and their traditions were a heritage of the 
Bard. Can we doubt that he heard much of what 
his ancestors were, of their gladness, of their 
sorrow, of their sharp variances, of their deep 
affections, of their stout contentions for the causes 
they espoused, and of their chequered fates ? 

The reference to the heritage of Burns brings up 
the subject of heredity which has here a threefold 
interest. It gives practical value to an otherwise 
purposeless genealogical inquiry, and point to an 
otherwise bootless historical research. It weaves 
together the several strands of the bond which binds 
Burns to the North, and affords solid ground for a 
plea on behalf of the Mearns to be conceded a fore- 
most place in the production and poetical equip- 
ment of the National Bard. It lends something 
more than plausibility to a contention 
that there is a far closer affinity between Burns and 
the men o' the Mearus than ever could have 
existed between him and the "wabsters" of 
Kilmarnock, the pawky men of Ayr, or the 
slauder-mongering townsmen of Dumfries. 

At this point, the view taken by Dr Kogers may 
be introduced. It is worthy of 'being read with 
care. He says : 


" That Robert Burns was, in respect of his great 
powers, directly indebted to his ancestors may not 
be affirmed. Neither may we venture to assert 
that he arose in a soil which had no preparation. 
So to speak would be to substitute for providential 
pre-arrangement the government of chance. As in 
the meadow there are spots more especially 
efflorescent, and which produce plants odorous and 
honey-laden, so from certain races, or certain com- 
binations of races, descend those who by their 
thought and activities tend to renovate and 
enoble. ... I, for one, incline to believe 
the strong influence of heredity. Like oil on 
water, mental power rises to the surface, and 
though beclouded for generations will emerge and 
assert itself." 

The theory of the learned genealogist gos far 
towards restoring Burns to the Mearns, and to the 
home of his forefathers, the Burneses of 
Glenbervie. It may not yet, perhaps, be 
thoroughly understood how close Burns stood to 
his northern kindred. His maternal ancestry will 
be briefly adverted to presently, but on the 
paternal side and the words that follow are likely 
to prove a hard saying to many Robert Burns 
was the first of his race to be claimed by the South 
and that in virtue of birth alone and not of blood. 
His grandfather was born, lived, and died in the 
Mearns, and his father, William Burnes, had 
already reached man's estate when about 1748-49 
he left Clochnahill, his father's farm, on the 
southern slope of Carmount, for Edinburgh and 

Before closing his address at Gleubervie, Dr 
Rogers spoke very decidedly upon the subject. He 
suggested that Burns might not have been the 
patriotic poet he was had he not derived his being 
from a race who transmitted to their descendant 
the love of county and of kind. For his own part, 
he strongly held that, while genius is meteoric and 
underived, its direction is under the guidance of 
example and heredity. 

As if entirely to sever Burns' more or less acci- 
dental connection with the South, although for about 
a century -and-a-quarter his maternal ancestors can 
be traced along the coast of Ayrshire, they were 
originally Celtic, and, according to Dr Rogers, were 
speaking Gaelic within half-a-century of the poet's 
birth. Assuming the natives of the Mearna to have 


been Scandinavian, Dr Rogers thus eloquently 
speaks of the parents of Burns : 

" The union of the two races of Saxon 
and Celt in his house first occurred by the 
marriage of William Burnes and Agnes Brown 
a union of which the first issue appeared on the 
25th January, 1759, when the great minstrel was 
born. Might we not poetically say that in that 
birth was provided the keystone of an arch, of 
which one pillar rested on the rocks of Carrick, and 
the other on the wild, rough shores of Bervie and 
Dunnottar ?" 

As to the origin of the Burneses or their first 
arrival in the Mearns. nothing is known with 
certainty. A story gained credence for a time in 
some quarters that they are descended from an 
Argyllshire fugitive who, on arriving in the 
Mearns, took the name of Burnhouse from a pro- 
perty he held in his county of origin. That name 
is supposed to have been in course of time corrupted 
and to have assumed several different forms 
Burnes, Burness, Burnas, Burnasse, Burnace, and 
others. The tale has no foundation in either 
direct or indirect testimony, and all the pre- 
sumptive evidence is against it. 

Dr James Burnes in his "Notes" goes into a 
lengthy dissertation upon cognate Norman and 
English names, but in the genealogical chain of his 
weaving there is a missing link which he never 
forged. He did not succeed in connecting the 
Norman and English bearers of similar names 
with the Burneses of Glenbervie. The hiatus is 
not to be regretted. It would have been incon- 
gruous and at variance with the fitness of things 
had it proved that the singer of " Scots wha ha'e " 
was by descent an Englishman. 

Dr Rogers has departed from his earlier theories, 
and his latest position gains strength from its 
common-sense and direct simplicity. Bruce 
granted a charter in which Bernis appears as a 
placename in the thanedom of Aberbuthnott 
afterwards Marykirk. Bernis was afterwards 
called Burnhouse and Bernes, and similar designa- 
tions appear in other parts of Scotland. " The 
appellative," says Dr Rogers, "pointed to proxi- 
mity to a burn or small stream." The adoption 
of a territorial name by a family is by no means 
uncommon. As a place called Beniis existed in 
JVIarykirk early in the fourteenth century, there is 


nothing more likely than that its owner or occupier 
a*- lined the name of his lauds. 

From Marykirk to Glenbervie is a mere step, and 
in the sixteenth century (15-17) when the Stuarts 
acquired Inchbreck from Sir Alexander Douglas of 
Glenbervie, they found Barneses upon the roll of 
tenants. It is, accordingly, quite possible that the 
Inchbreck branches belonged to the Marykirk stem, 
but the assumption is not a genealogical necessity. 
Jervise, at all events, mentions two charters by 
King Robert the Bruce, granting lands in Glen- 
bervie named alternatively Bernes and Beniis, and 
subsequently known as Burnhouse of Kuir. From, 
these the Gleubervie Burneses may have taken their 
name. Its origin is, however, purely speculative. 
Its earliest form appears to have been Barnes. The 
poet spelled it Burness for a time, and ultimately 
settled upon Burns. Burness was the form usually 
adopted in Kincardineshire in tlu; early part of the 
18th century and probably before that time. In 
the Kirk-Session Records of Glenbervie the name is 
invariably spelled Burness. 

The tradition of an Argyllshire root, advanced by 
John Burness, author of "Thrummy Cap" and 
other poems, elicited from Dr James Burnes, the 
following letter addressed to William Burness, 
Stonehaveu, iu which a new theory is started : 

" MONTKOSK, [date eaten by mice]. 

" DEAR SIR, In consequence of soiin- reference having been 
made to my grandfather and our family in Allan Cunning- 
ham's late life of Burns the poet, I lately addressed a letter to 
the session clerk of Glenb.^rvi*", requestinir him to consult the 
registers of the parish regarding our forefathers. It appears, I 
however, that the registers wore destroyed at the Rebellion ; I 
but the session clerk, as you will observe by one of the en- 
closi-d letters, informs me that you possess papers likely to 
elucidate the subject ; and I therefore beg the favour of your 
hfiiclinu me any information you may possess. It is not 
improbable that your information is the same UK that contained 
in the accompanying letter from Mr John Burnusa of Ktone- 
haven* to my father Provost Burnos of Montrose. If so, I 
have strong reason to believe that the orijrin of the name there 
given is incorrect, as ft law document is still in existence 
granting a respite to Johnne Burness, and others, for the 
[piece mice-eat. .rl of Caithness, and dated S[tir- 

Iin]g. September. 1'tiX, in the reign of King James the 5th, no 
less than ii;."> years before the Revolution referred to by Mr 
John Burness. The Johnne Burness alluded to in the respite 
was in all probability an Orkney man. It is more likely, 
therefore, that the name was originally derived from Burness, 
the name of a parish in the Orkneys. Perhaps you could 
obtain sonic information for me respecting such of the family 


as are in the parish of Dunnottar. [Here follow instructions 
respecting copying of mamixciipt, etc.] 

" I remain. Dear Sir, 
' Yours truly, 

" Jiomiay Army. 

* The author of " Thrummy Cap," etc. 
From this letter it would seem that Dr Burnes in- 
clined at that time to the belief that the name was 
\ Orcadian. 

One John Bumes makes his appearance in 
1637 as chamberlain to Sir Alexander Strachan of 
Thornton. A little later, 26th August, 1659, 
Patrick Burnes subscribes an instrument as clerk 
to the Presbytery of Brechin. After that date 
members of the family, spelling their common sur- 
name in all sorts of quaint fashions, appear in the 
local registers of various contiguous parishes. 

In connection with their dispersal Dr Rogers 

" In the parish register of Arbuthnot is the follow- 
ing entry : ' At the Kirk of Arbuthnot, the 27th 
of August, 1033, the said day Robert Burnes presentit 
ane child to be baptizit called Robert. Witness thereto 
Robert Krow in Parkhead.' This Robert Krow or 
Crow after whom the child was named seems to have 
derived his name from his landlord, Sir Robert 
Arbuthnott. Thus was the Christian name of Robert 
introduced into the Burnes family. Robert Bumes, 
the child baptised at Arbuthnott in 1633, is in the 
register of tlv-it parish described, in June, 16<3o, jvhen 
he married Elizabeth Wise, as residing in Glenborvie. 
As the parish registers of Glenbervie are non-existent 
prior to 1721, and the marriage register prior to 1747, 
we cannot trace the actual succession of Robert Bur- 
nes and his wife, Elizabeth Wise." 

James Burnes, the poet's great-grandfather, the 
inscription from whose tombstone is given above, 
was in his earlier life, lessee of one half of Bogjorgan. 
He thereafter became tenant of Bralinmuir. His 
son Robert took the farm of Kin month in Glen- 
bervie, and afterwards that of Clochnahill in 
Duunottar. He married Isabella Keith of Criggie, 
x. a farm adjoining Clochnahill, and had ten sons and 
7 daughters, of whom William, born llth November, 
1727, was the father of Robert Bums. 

It is unnecessary to go further. Speculating 
until Doomsday would carry us no nearer the truth 
regarding the beginning of the family and the 
derivation of the name. Suffice it to know that 


there were Barneses in Glenbervie in 15i7 ; that 
after u blank of more than a century the nrm 
ground of history is reached with the birth, in 
IGoti, of James Barnes, the great-grandfather of 
the poet ; and that there were Burneses on Bralin- 

_J muir down to 1807, when the farm passed from 
David Burnes to John Kennedy. Bogjorgan went 
out of the family on the death of the third William 

N/ in 1784. 

A great deal of speculation has been indulged in 
by Dr Kogers and others as to the part taken by 
the Burneses in the Jacobite risings of 1715 and 

^J 1745. The subject takes us away from Glenbervie, 
and it may be dismissed with the curt statement 
that the hypothesis that they particularly Bums' 
father and uncles fought for Prince Charlie is not 
only unsupported by any evidence, but is surrounded 
by improbabilities. That the poet's father had no 
share in the rising of 1745 is virtually certain. 
Gilbert mentions " his possession of a parish certi- 
licate bearing that he, William Burues took no 
part in the " late wicked rebellion." To assume 
that a man of his integrity, rigid religious belief, 
and staunch moral principle would carry about 
with him written testimony to a lie would be both 
outrageous and preposterous in reference to him of 
whom his greater son wrote : 

" The pitying heart that felt for human woe, 

The dauntless heart that fear' <l no human pride ; 
The friend of man to vice aloue a foe." 
Of greater immediate interest than either 
Jacobitism or desc :ut is the social position of the 
Burneses. The most exaggerated s L <iteuients have 
been made upon this subject, the best method of 
combatting which is to state ascertained truth. 
Their farms were not rich and fertile like those of the 
Carse of (Jowrie, the Howe of Fife, or the Lothian.*. 
Returning to the Brae Road the land on either 
side suggests comparatively recent reclamation. On 
the riglit or east of the ro.nd, not far from the Parish 
Kirk, is Jn_Qhes, once in the possession of one of 
t'ic Burneses, "and further north the suggestive 
place-names of Backtiekl. (Jotbank, and Skellygibb 
are encountered. Once fairly over the back of tho' 
Brae and only a few hundred yards in front is the 
road leading past Bogjorgati and Klflull to Stone- 
haven. In the time of the Burhfees the whole 
country side must have been wild and uncultivated. 
Even the names are suggestive of wet and uupro- 

ductive land Bogjorgnn, Bogherb, Brawlinmuir, 
Moor of Germany, Mossside, Mosshcad. These 
and many others point to the original character of 
the soil, which be it sail to the credit of both laird 
and tenant, has during the last half-century been 
brought under cultivation in a wonderful and 
praiseworthy manner. 

The original farmhouse of Bogj organ consisted 
of one room divided by a wooden partition into two 
compartments. It had open rafters, and a thatched 
roof. The description given by Robertson in his 
" Agricultural Survey of Kincardiueshire," gives a 
fair idea of the furniture commonly found in the 
old-fashioned Mearns cottages. ' The furniture of 
a Mearus Cottage," he says, "consists, in general, 
of two close wooden beds, which are so arranged as 
to make a separation between two apartments ; one 
or two wooden chests for holding clothes : a cask or 
" girnal " for holding meal ; a set of dairy utensils ; 
an iron pot or two for cooking the victuals ; a girdle 
or heating iron, for toasting the bread ; and a few 
dishes, some of wood and some of stoneware ; two 
or three chairs or stools ; and a press or cupboard 
for holding the crockery ware, and the bread, the 
cheese, the butter, and at times the whisky bottle." 

Chambers, in his life and works of Kobert Burns, 
gives a copy of the inventory of the home steading 
of Bogjorgan at the time of the .separation (1705) of 
William and James Burnes, sons of the first 
William. At tliat time James took Inches and 
William remiimccf at Bogjorgan. It is a very 
interesting document, and from its quaint phrase- 
ology and abundance of detail, is here given 
entire : 

" Ano note of the bigiug off Bogjorgiue, belonging to 
William Stuart, heritor thereof!, jjiwu up bo William 
Bunmssc, present tenant of the s.l rowm, uiul James 
lUuuasse. litte possessor of the kalff thoreofE, upon tho 
Beveutaiuth day of Jully, 1705 yours." 

" Imp (a ffiyr) houss, consisting of three couplles, 
flour horses, two tuil postes. ano iniille wall with aye 
post fl'roni the ground, with ane rooff, two pares in the 
syd, with juio door bandot, locked, and bared, and 
with ane window oil two lightes, bradet, baudet, and 
Shocked, with ano lounie, all to be sufficient." 

"Item, ano barne. consisting of ffyve couplks, four 
horses, two taillpostcs, ane rooff, thiic pares in the 
s,'d, with flor floor locked, <md bsuidet. and back door 
Lured and sUvplcd, all to be sulncicut." 


" Item, nne byre, consisting of four couplles, two in 
the syd, ane roof, with door and door cheikes bandet, all 
to be sufficient. " 

"It is declared be both parties that if ther be no 
other inveutur ffound betwixt this and Whytsonday 
nixt, 1706 years, that this shall be ane tr(ue) inventuroff 
the said William Bumess at his removell from the said 
roum. lu witness . . . beffor these witnesses 
Robt. Middletouu in Broombank, and David Watson 
in Polbum, wryter hereof. 


" D. WATSOX, wittnes 1705, 

and wryter. W. B. 

There is in existence a similar inventory of 
Bralinruuir and Inchbreck. The former lies to the 
west of Bog j organ, and was occupied by Burns' 
great-grandparents. The inventory is dated J759, 
the year of the poet's birth. The following is the 
part applicable to Braliumuir: 
Imp. The Dwelling-House Walls, wh. j 
stone midd-wall valued at Eighteen > 18 

Pounds Scots ) 

The Roof and Door of sd. House, ) 

valued at Nineteen Pounds Scots ] 19 

2d. The Barn walls valued at fifteen I 

pounds Scots / 15 

The Roof Doors &c. of sd. Barn valued ) 

at fifteen Pounds and one merk Scots.. / 15 13 4 

Sum total of Brawlimnoor sixty seven ) 

Pounds and one merk Scots j 6713 4 

It thus appears that Bogjorgan consisted of a 
dwelling-house, barn, and byre, and that the first 
of these had only one room, divided by a middle 
wall, one door and one window. A middle-class 
farmer of to-day would consider it little better than 
a hovel. Its estimated value is not stated, but the 
dwelling-house and barn at Bralinrnuir are 
apprised at a little more than a five -pound note in 
sterling money ! Another circumstance pointing 
in the same direction is that under the will of James 
Burnes of Bralinrnuir the sum total of the 
bequests does not amount to more than about 
25 sterling. The Burneses, in fact, had neither 
wealth nor position. They were fanners of the 
humbler sort. They had, at times, a hard 
struggle to live. They were not rarely called upon 
to meet the raids of Highland caterans ; they sowed 
and reaped in no climatic Paradise ; and both cold 
and stubborn was the laud they tilled upon the 


braes. But inured to the struggle for life, they 
were strong men, unyielding, determined, 
courageous, and impervious to the despair that 
follows the weakling's defeat. A great deal of their 
lives and character may be read in those of William 
Burnes the poet's father. That they were in- 
dustrious and honest men is shown by their 
continuance upon Inchbreck for upwards of two- 
and-a-half centuries. They clung close to each 
other, clustering round the aiioestral farms upon 
Inchbreck, and were probably clannish. They may 
not have been rich but they were men of honour, 
intelligence and strict integrity. None of the 
Burneses of Glenbervie was ever compelled to travel 
far in quest of a farm, and no landlord ever parted 
with a Burnes except at his tenant's request. Such 
were the men who may be chosen as types of the 
older inhabitants of Gleiibervie. 

And now, courteous reader, our labour of love is 
ended ; our tale is told ; our picture drawn ; our 
garment woven. We doubt not that the tale is in- 
complete ; the picture blurred and marred by many 
imperfections ; the garment rough and uncouth. 
But let it be remembered that the materials also 
were rough and incomplete. The picture we place 
before you with all its defects ; the garment we lay 
open to your inspection. If we have in any way 
aided another to tell a better tale, to paint a fairer 
picture or weave a more artistic garment, we shall 
not have laboured in vain. That this will be done 
yet we doubt not. A more cunning hand and a 
more skilful workman will yet gather up our tangled 
threads, and weave them with others into a vesture 
of more delicate and lovely proportions. We have 
written it with the heart as all work of a like kind 
should be, and if it should in any wise induce others 
either to road or to write of, ' ' the lowly train in life's 
sequestered scene " we shall be satisfied. In words 
slightly altered from those of the great Bard whose 
spirit still animates us to-day, we conclude : 

" A wish I miud its power, 
A wish that to my latest hour 

Shall strongly heave my breast ; 
That I, for dear Glenbervie's sake, 
Some simple plan or book should make, 

Or sins a sane at least." 


Page 2. For ' Kinghomy ' rend ' Arbutlmott.' 
This correction of Jervise is made on the authority 
of Rev. R. M. Spence, Arbutlmott, who furnished 
the author with an extract copy of Dr Arbuthnott's 
baptismal certificate. 

Page 10. For ' Ireland ' read ' the Tyrol.' 
Page 91. For ' And my name is ' read ' Than I.' 



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